May16, 2004 6th Sunday of Easter (C)  John 14:23-29


            A Maryknoll priest friend of mine told me of a stupid mistake he made as a young priest. After ordination he was assigned to Taiwan.  After a couple of years, the Bishop assigned him as pastor to new Christian community. The Catholics and Father worked together to build a beautiful little Church.  Father loved it there.  After six years in Taiwan, Father went to the U.S. for furlough.  To his surprise, as soon as he returned to Taiwan, the Bishop told him:  “I am assigning you as of today to be pastor of another parish. Pick up your things today and go to your new assignment.”  Obediently, Father did as he was told.


            Some years later, Father met a parishioner from his previous parish.  The parishioner told him that even though some ten years had passed, the people could never forget that he left without saying “good-by.”


            This priest concluded: “I will never leave another parish without giving the people an opportunity to say good-by.”


JESUS’ POINT OF VIEW Jesus gives a beautiful example of how to say “good-by.” (Chapters 13-17.) Some sixty years later St. John devoted five entire chapters of his gospel to the Jesus’ farewell meal with his apostles. St. John must have often reflected on that evening and the intimacy he felt for Jesus and the community of apostles.


Jesus planned a lovely tasty meal.  That evening Jesus said a lot of things that he wanted the apostles to always remember. Jesus opened his heart to his apostles and told them his deepest feelings and concerns. Jesus spoke frankly.  He assured the apostles that he loved each of them very much.  He told them not to feel too bad at his departure.  He tried to steel them against the sorrow of the next day.  He told them not to be afraid.  He promised that even though they couldn’t see him, he would always be with them.  He didn’t want the apostles fighting and hurting one another.  He wanted them to be at peace with one another and always forgive one another. Jesus said that if the apostles always did that, he would be very proud of them. That is what they should do if they wanted to make Jesus happy that evening. Jesus told them it was important that he was leaving.  There was something that he had to do. Jesus had to prepare a new home for them with his Father.  One day they would be reunited and once again sit together at a happy banquet.  Then their present sorrows would so insignificant compared to the joy of the heavenly banquet.


In the ensuing years, John must have loved to gather with those early Christian communities and share his memories of that Last Supper and once again be united with Jesus in the Eucharistic banquet. What beautiful memories John must have had about that farewell banquet.


Jesus was not like that priest in Taiwan.  Jesus knew the importance of saying “good-by”. Jesus knew how to “do” a farewell.


1.      Jesus carefully chose an intimate place and planned a tasty meal.

2.      Jesus revealed what was in his heart.

3.      Jesus warned them that that there would be rough times ahead but he would be with them.

4.      He calmed their anxieties and tried to give their hearts a gift of peace.

5.      Jesus left them a memento so they should remember him:  His whole person, body and blood, soul and divinity, in the Eucharist.

6.      Jesus gave them encouraged them by speaking of the day they would be reunited in heaven.  What a great day!




Departures are difficult.  We may be very busy packing.  We may be worried about moving to a new place. But more importantly departures usually involve some grief.  Some of us imagine that we can avoid this pain by leaving without saying good-by.  But in that case the pain just goes deeper and the hurt gets trapped inside.   Thanks the community for its gifts to him. He might want to give some special advice to the community.  If he has hurt anyone, he will embrace that person and ask for forgiveness. He will then promise to try to share these special gifts of the community with those in his new community.


When you leave a community, leave the gift of peace. Tell the community you are leaving—not like my priest friend in Taiwan. If the community wants to put on some simple ceremony, accept it graciously.  Let the community bathe you one last time in a tub of love.


When you leave a community, leave the gift of peace. Tell the community you are leaving—not like my priest friend in Taiwan.  If the community wants to put on some simple ceremony, accept it graciously.  Let the community bathe you one last time in a tub of love.


Bring with you the gifts you have received from St. Patrick’s community to your new parish community.  Proudly introduce yourself: “I come from St. Patrick’s parish in Wang Tau Hom.”




Community members who are remaining in the parish  When someone departs St. Patrick’s community, Jesus tells us it is important to gather together with this person.  We tell him/her what his/her presence has meant to our community. If we are wise old people, we might give that person some advice.  “When you get to your new parish, tell the people that sometimes that you have a bad temper and when that happens, they should kick you in the behind and forgive you.” Or perhaps there has been some unresolved misunderstanding between the person departing and another member of St. Patrick’s community.  The community will help them “kiss and make up.” 


For those of us remaining at St. Patrick’s community, we should express out gratitude to that person for his/her contribution to our community. The community will give the one leaving a memento viz. a homemade greeting card or some little knickknack.  And despite the sadness, the community will remind the brother/sister that someday we will be joyfully reunited-- if not on the earth, then certainly at the heavenly banquet.  And certainly whenever the one departing receives the body and blood of Christ, the whole Christ at Mass he/she would be closely united with the people of their previous parish.


       St. Patrick’s community says “Thank-you.”  And not just to a departing priest or sister or a parish leader.


  1. It may be a person who has served the parish:  a member of the parish council. Or perhaps someone is always available for the folding the parish newsletter or moving chairs.


  1. It may be a resident in a home for the elderly who sustains our community with her prayers.


  1. It may be a person who was not able to join in our parish activities or spend time in acts of service.  But at least they have often prayed with us and sat at the Eucharistic banquet with us.


  1.  When a member of our community is being called from this life, we say good-by in an appropriate way:  If we know the person well, we may wish to pay a visit or write a note saying how much we appreciate the things that she did.  If you don’t know the person very well, we can send a little card… …a spiritual bouquet…a picture of Jesus, Mary or one of the saints.


FINALE:  How many of you think that we should be like Jesus and give each member of St. Patrick’s community who is departing our community a loving farewell?  If you think this is a great idea, please stand up and pray the Creed.


May16, 2004 6th Sunday of Easter (C)  John 14:23-29




THEME:  Jesus teaches Christians how to “do” farewells.


TEXT:     “’Peace’ is my farewell to you…” Jn 14: 27.





“A farewell to the deceased is his final ‘commendation to God’ by the Church [community].  …The Byzantine tradition expresses this by the kiss of farewell to the deceased:


By this final greeting ‘we sing for his departure from this life and separation from us, but also because there is a communion and a reunion.     We shall never be separated, for we life for Christ, and now we are united with Christ as we go toward him…we shall all be together in Christ.’”   (St. Simeon of Thessalonica, De ordine sepulturae. 336: PG 155, 684.)


Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Mission Hills: Benziger Publishing Co, 1994), 1690, p. 420.


Chewing, Digesting and Practicing God’s Word

May16, 2004 6th Sunday of Easter (C)  John 14:23-29

nAME_________    Grade_____________


1.       St. John devotes chapters 13-17 of his gospel to Jesus f___________ b__________.

2.       __T/F  Jesus held this banquet in the temple.

3.       __T/F When someone leaves our community we should act as though nothing has happened and carry on with our work.

4.       Leaving St. Patrick’s parish and moving to New Territories Ferdinand..

A.       She should i________ the community that she is leaving us.


  1. She should bring the gifts that she has received at S____ P __________ to her new p_______ community.


5.       When we visit someone who may soon d_____, we should tell him or her that they look great and that they will certainly get b_______ soon.


6.      (Optional) Quote one sentence from John 13-17 that you would like to say to your brothers and sisters at St. Patrick’s should you move away.



(Hints:  famous, funeral   parish, dwell, die, forgive, better, banquet, farewell, inform)