There are lots of “farewells” or “goodbyes” in life. There are the simple ones of every day when we leave home, work or a place where we meet other people. We never really think about what this “good bye” may mean. It is often simply said as the proper polite words as one leaves. We never think this may be for some extraordinary reason the last time we actually see and say “good bye” to that person. Most of us know the hurt and sorrow that comes from saying a final “goodbye” to someone we have loved. Saying “goodbye” to a dying spouse, parent, child, brother, sister, or any relative or friend can be most painful. This weekend our Gospel passage is about the “farewell” or “good bye” of Jesus. It is in fact a long discourse or passage. This “farewell” is actually an accumulation of many of the sayings and words of Jesus and placed at the Last Supper All of this passage is the last testament of Jesus before He died on the cross.
This all needs to be placed in the larger context that the beloved apostles had no idea that Jesus was to die; in fact, they had no idea of what was to happen. They may have realized that this supper was special and very important and certainly more than the usual Passover Supper, but they had no idea of what was to come.
After Judas had left, Jesus then tells them He must go and they must carry on as disciples. In fact, the sign of their discipleship is their love for one another, which is patterned on His love for them. They at this point still did not know that He would die on the cross for love of them. They also did not know that the Resurrection was to happen. They had no insight of what would ultimately be asked of them or how they would respond in success or failure.
At this point in the narration, the apostles have no insight or partial understanding of what they will be asked to do in the name of the love of Jesus. Our first reading this weekend helps us to understand that love actually requires practical action and steps. The quite busy activity of Paul and Barnabas is meant to show that their love of Christ required them to act. This love was not always easy; it required effort and work, not just emotion. The two missionaries established faith communities and helped establish structures which were able to function once the two had left. Their actions and work were a success. The second reading is about how the whole world will be transformed. It is a vision of fulfillment of following Christ’s words. It is ultimately about heaven and how wonderful it is.
The early community of believers knew that love renews the heart, soul and life of people. They had witnessed it in Jesus and his relationships with so many people. They also came to understand that there is a cost of discipleship and love. Most importantly they came to understand and witness that love is greater than darkness and that in particular the light of Christ always overcomes the darkness in life.BACK TO LIST