Many of us have had the experience of saying goodbye to a loved one, a goodbye which was sooner than any of us wanted and much unexpected caused by an illness. The goodbye had many deep emotions imbedded within it. We are sad we will no longer see the person we deeply love, the death of a promise. We are also relieved they are out of their suffering. They are going to see our Lord. Our loved ones often encourage us to go on and to be strong, even while they are facing death.

Today’s reading is full of many emotions: sadness, love, joy, and the unknown. We hear Paul saying goodbye to his friends and those he had been with for three years. Paul speaks of his dedication to the gospel and his willingness to suffer for the gospel. He speaks of the Church built with Christ’s own blood by his death and resurrection. Paul warns them that many disciples will leave the flock because they will not be strong in faith.

I am sure Paul was very sad but he was strong. He needed to share his feelings and love with those he was leaving behind to encourage them, give them hope. Paul did not ask for any worldly goods, just to be united with Christ.

Please allow yourself to receive when our Lord gives everything to us in his body and blood at the Eucharist. Are you ready to be dedicated to the gospel and willing to suffer for the gospel?

—Bob Thomas is Executive Director and CEO of Rainbows for All God’s Children, Evanston IL