There’s a beautiful similarity between Paul’s speech at Miletus in the first reading and Jesus’s speech to the apostles at the Last Supper in the Gospel. I see in them both how they toiled and labored for the sake of those they love on earth, but they both know that the ones to whom they speak will no longer be able to rely on Paul and Jesus’s earthly presence. They are travelers on the journey and their time of fulfillment approaches. Both offered themselves to the Father for the sake of souls: one for their salvation, one to witness to that salvation.
I think this is an important reminder for us. The witnesses that we get to enjoy here on earth are supposed to be just that: witnesses. Do we remember that they aren’t the end in themselves? They witness TO something greater: Jesus Christ. I think of all the people I really look up to and whose wisdom I consistently seek out: holy priests, Catholic celebrities, older and wiser women, awesome friends. I definitely idolize a lot of them. I think of how young adult Catholics all over the country, myself included, almost worship Fr. Mike Schmitz for his wisdom, personality, and (let’s be honest) darn good looks. I’m sure Fr. Mike is aware of this, and I’m sure it breaks his heart.
I’m really convicted of this tendency in my own heart when I find myself calling my friends and talking to them about my problems instead of talking to God about them in prayer. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t also talk to them. God doesn’t always answer our questions directly through time spent with Him. He gave us holy friends for a reason, but don’t leave Him out of the equation. I find myself doing that a lot, especially when prayer is challenging.
Paul and Jesus remind us that ultimately, we are God’s. They are working for our sake to draw us close to God the Father. If we don’t pursue Him then their work is moot. Obviously Jesus is God and so as we draw close to Him then we draw close to God the Father, but I think this is an important lesson He wants us to learn. Don’t rely on the prophets of earth. They are not the end. The end is eternal happiness in heaven with God the Father if we run well the race on earth. So take a minute to thank God for those holy people in your life that help you see Him, that have brought you close to Him, but then thank Him for your relationship with Him and all the amazing things that He has done for you: starting with sending His only Son to die on the cross for you.
-Amanda Nobis, Director of Evangelization