Feast of the Ascension of the Lord

The departure lounge at a transport hub—be it an airport, a bus, or a train station—is a place of mixed emotions.

A person(s) is leaving. Persons have come to say goodbye however they are staying.

Each goodbye is particular and indeed peculiar to everyone.

I can only name emotions that I have personally experienced; for others, the emotions may well be quite different.

As the one going, I feel a mixture of sadness at leaving those who are important and special, anticipation for what lies ahead, and no doubt a certain anxiety—where I had known friends as immediate contact and support, I might well be on my own.

As the one staying, I experience an equal mix of emotions.

There is pleasure for the one leaving—perhaps stepping out for the first time to a new place of learning or job opportunity, and there is also sadness that the one leaving will leave a hole—and it is to that hole I must return to and be reminded of with regularity.

The regular aroma of a particular scent or aftershave is no longer there!

The irrepressible laugh or chuckle of the other is no longer heard.

Toward the end of the Gospel of John, I find one of the most intimate moments in the entire Gospel. Jesus, newly risen from the dead, is standing on the shore of the lake,

“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realise it was Jesus.

He called to them, “Friends, have you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”

When they did, they could not haul the net in because of the large number of fish. (Jn. 21:4 – 6).

It is that early morning call, piercing the approaching light, “Friends!”

On the feast of the Ascension, I suggest that before we run headlong into any theological discourse on the role of proclaiming the Good News (Mk. 15:15), we take a moment to reflect on the very real experience of friends saying goodbye.

These persons are as we are with all the mix of emotions that make us human.

Remember, too, one of those persons Jesus needs say goodbye to is his mother.