13 May 2007


6th Sunday of Easter
Jn 14:23-29

For some people, there is nothing sweeter than saying goodbye after a long and boring evening. But saying goodbye to our loved ones is postponed as much as we can. Very truly, in the company of some people, we refuse to depart, while from the presence of the others we wish we have wings to fly! Quite often, when the time to say farewell to a loved one comes, the pain is unbearable. This is even truer when death is the reason for the parting. The finality of death is difficult to ignore.

But life is a series of saying goodbyes. Sometimes, loving also means having to part ways. As Joey Ayala says in his song:

Ang pag-ibig natin
ay walang hanggang paalam.
At kahit papalayo,
papalapit pa rin ang puso.
Kahit na magkahiwalay
tayo’y magkasama
sa magkabilang dulo ng mundo.”

When a loved one says goodbye, for whatever reason, we cannot help but wonder how we can move one without him or without her or even without them. We hope that the time to separate ways would never come because we fear that our world would crumble around us. Say goodbye, we must, however, when the time comes. For everything fades away.

This is what Jason Mraz questions through his popular song Kanlungan-Buklod:

“Natatandaan mo pa ba,
nang tayong dalawa ay unang nagkita?
Panahon ng kamusmusan
sa piling ng mga bulaklak at halaman.
Doon tayong nagsimulang
mangarap at tumula.

“Inukit kong puso sa punong mangga
at ang inalay kong gumamela,
magkahawak-kamay sa dalampasigan
malayang tulad ng mga ibon
ang gunita ng ating kahapon

“Lumilipas ang panahon
kabiyak ng ating gunita.
Ang mga puno’t halaman
bakit kailangan lumisan?

“Pana-panahon ang pagkakataon.
Maibabalik ba ang kahapon?
Lumilipas ang panahon,
kabiyak ng ating gunita.
Ang mga puno’t halaman
bakit kailanangan lumisan?

“Pana-panahon ang pagkakataon.
Maibabalik ba ang kahapon?”

We refuse to deceive our selves and waste our lives in nostalgia. We know the answer to Jason’s question. We know that we cannot bring the past back anymore. We can remember it, commemorate it, celebrate it, thank it and be proud of it, or we can forget it, avoid it, regret it, blame it and be ashamed of it. But bringing back the past is impossible to do. The past is past. It is not today nor tomorrow. We can re-enact it but that is not the exact past anymore. We can think about the past but we cannot hold on to it. We can visit the past but we cannot bring the past to the present.

In the Gospel today, Jesus knows the pain His disciples feel as He says goodbye to them. They are who they are because of Him. Without Jesus, who will they be? Thus, Jesus prepares His disciples for His departure. And in the course of His farewell speech, He advises them not to be afraid. Indeed, He is going away but He leaves them not with His absence. Instead, Jesus gives them His word, His peace, and His promise of the Holy Spirit who will help them be His disciple always.

When Jesus goes, He does not leave His disciples with answers to every question in life. He knows that they will have to bear many struggles, face countless ambiguities and confusions, and suffer various persecutions, including death itself. Even within their own community, they will not always see eye to eye in all things. An example of this disagreement within the Christian community itself is what we hear in the First Reading today. They have different memories of Jesus, and will emphasize different things about the Faith. Sa truth is, in their experience of persecution from outside their community and of disagreement within their community, they should all the more put at work their faith in Jesus.

The disciples and the every Christians learned a very important lesson that we, too, must understand, Jesus went away but He never fades. Seasons fade but not Jesus. Jesus departed from our view but He never fades in our life. That He cannot be seen does not in anyway mean He is not around anymore. Not because we cannot see Him walking around o hear Him speak or touch His human flesh as the disciples could, it means that Jesus is less present now than before. It only means that Jesus is present today in a different way. And because He is present in a different way, only through a different way can we see, hear, and touch Him. Today, we experience the new presence of Jesus through faith. Whenever we live according to His word, whenever we become channels of His peace to others, and whenever we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us through persecutions and conflicts within and without the Church, we feel and we know that Jesus is indeed still with us.

We cannot bring the past back because the past has faded. We cannot also bring Jesus back because He has not faded anyway. In a mysterious way, in Jesus, the past and the future converge and explode, as it were, into an eternal present. The Holy Eucharist we celebrate is the perfect example of this mystery. The Holy Eucharist is Jesus always present in our midst. Though Jesus has ascended into and we are still earthbound, as Joey Ayala’s song says, separated though we are, we are together at opposite ends of the earth. We bridge the gap between these opposite ends through His word, His peace, and His Spirit. For Jesus went but He never fades.


At 8:14 PM , Blogger rokel said...

hi fr. bob! i believe the song "kanlungan" is by noel cabangon.. not by jason mraz :)

by the way, i'm a regular reader of your blog. love your posts. keep sharing God's Word! :)

At 3:36 AM , Anonymous Bubut said...

Lord Jesus, parting is the most hurting phase in man's life, you will feel that a part of you was torn out, but when you left us here on earth, you left your body and blood to us for us to feel your presence. Bless us that we will always be thankful of your presence in the Holy Mass.

God bless po...


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