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When It’s Time to Go

First Reading: Acts 20:28-38

At Miletus, Paul spoke to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus:
“Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock
of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers,
in which you tend the Church of God
that he acquired with his own Blood.
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you,
and they will not spare the flock.
And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth
to draw the disciples away after them.
So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day,
I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears.
And now I commend you to God
and to that gracious word of his that can build you up
and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.
I have never wanted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.
You know well that these very hands
have served my needs and my companions.
In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort
we must help the weak,
and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said,
‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

When he had finished speaking
he knelt down and prayed with them all.
They were all weeping loudly
as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him,
for they were deeply distressed that he had said
that they would never see his face again.
Then they escorted him to the ship.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 68:29-30, 33-35A, 35BC-36AB

R. (33a) Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth.
Show forth, O God, your power,
the power, O God, with which you took our part;
For your temple in Jerusalem
let the kings bring you gifts.
R. Sing to God, O Kingdoms of the earth.
You kingdoms of the earth, sing to God,
chant praise to the Lord
who rides on the heights of the ancient heavens.
Behold, his voice resounds, the voice of power:
“Confess the power of God!”
R. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth.
Over Israel is his majesty;
his power is in the skies.
Awesome in his sanctuary is God, the God of Israel;
he gives power and strength to his people.
R. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth.

Gospel: John 17:11B-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying:
“Holy Father, keep them in your name
that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the Evil One.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth.
Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

NAB

may 11

When was the last time you had to let go of something that really mattered? Most of us have faced that battle between brain and heart- the struggle to let go when our hands just won’t quite unclench. Our hearts ache with the effort of releasing what is precious to us . . . a job into which we’ve poured ourselves, a child who is heading off into the wide world, a classroom full of students we have shaped and molded. We’ve done our best, but our time is up.

“And now I commend you to God
and to that gracious word of his that can build you up.”

Saint Paul’s words tug at my heart. He has sacrificed everything for this young church that will now be responsible for bearing Christ to a hostile world. The new believers face persecution from outside the Church, but they face even worse from within, as division and infighting threaten to destroy them. Paul has taken them as far as he can, and now they must walk on their own.

How terrifying it must have been for them to watch him sail away!
How terrifying it must have been for Paul to release them and trust them to stand without him!

How could he know that they would be okay?

Because of Jesus and his example.

Because when Jesus faced the same situation- leaving those He had guided to stand on their own, He wasn’t really leaving them alone. He was leaving them in God’s hands. There’s no safer place they could be.

When I think of my children going out into the world someday, I sometimes worry that they won’t have everything they need to be capable, successful adults.

It helps to remember that they don’t belong to me. They are not mine any more than Paul’s followers belonged to him. They belong to God. They’re on loan to me here for a time. All I can do is my best, trusting God to fill in the gaps and to guide them when my turn is over.

It’s not easy to turn over our dearest ones and leave them in God’s hands, but Jesus and Paul showed us how to do it. Through prayer. With tears. In trust. He’s got the whole world in His hands, from the beginning of time until its end- Paul’s church at Ephesus, Jesus’ disciples, each and every one of us and all our fondest hopes and dreams. Nothing will slip through His fingers when we let it go and leave it in His hands.

God truly does have the whole world in His hands, including the thing you struggle most to let go. The next time you find yourself with hands clenched, try singing this song as you release what is precious to you so that God can take it for you. Remember that it matters even more to Him than to you.

photo credit

Abbey Dupuy writes her life as a homeschooling mama of four while relying on coffee and grace. You can find out more about her here.

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