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The other day, a mother came to me, lamenting, “Father, I can’t believe it. All my children accepted the invitation of my sister to go with her family to the beach for the weekend. This is the first time this has happened. Initially, I was worried about their safety and their needs. When they left, I felt loneliness creep in and the feeling that they no longer needed me.

Perhaps this is how most mothers and fathers feel about their children leaving home. Sometimes, the children have to leave to pursue further studies. Sometimes to get married and other times to enter the convent or the seminary. I think we sometimes underestimate children. They look so self-sufficient when they respond to the initial invitation to leave home, but once away from home, I am sure they, too, feel a certain void and the need for the familiar. My mother must think that the difficulty was solely hers when I left for the seminary. I had my struggles too. I could not sleep for many nights, missing home and wondering if I could persevere in my vocation.

These separations, painful as they are, are necessary. Jesus had to break away from the group of pilgrims and was thought to be lost before Mary and Joseph found Him preaching in the temple, “going about His Father’s business.” He had to follow the promptings of His heart. Teenagers have to spread their wings and go to a university of their choice to pursue a dream that perhaps God planted in their hearts, even as infants. Priests and nuns must give up everything, sometimes even sweethearts, to be true to their calling. A calling definitely God has planted in their soul.

On the other hand, there are cases when the children’s happiness leaving the house far outweighs the sadness they feel for leaving their parents. It is not because they are ungrateful for all that their parents have done for them. It is more like they have discovered their wings and want to test their flight. They want to test the values they have learned from their parents in the everyday grind. Sometimes they feel strongly that they need this newfound freedom without fully realizing why.

One thing is certain when these young adults venture into the world on their own, they are not all alone. Somehow, the little voices from within, of mother and father, are always audible, and their decisions are based on all the indoctrination and training they have received since childhood. Then those voices stay, and values ingrained are tested in the world until new values come in, and those are tested too. Then, new adults emerge, a combination of their parents’ value system and that which they have tried, tested, and learned from the world. So we cannot totally be separated from our parents. Though the physical absence is real. We are products of all our relationships, especially our parents.

During the season of Lent, the separation from God is somehow highlighted. When we, His children, decide that we want to be on our own and refuse to play the game of life by His rules, then not only do we suffer the consequences of our actions, but God, I think, suffers even more. We are His beloved children. He loves us more than any earthly mother or father loves her /his children. He does not want to see us hurt. Being all-knowing, God knows exactly the not-so-pleasant consequences of our sometimes reckless decisions, especially when we depend on our own strength and knowledge. He is in greater pain when this happens. This condition is known as the sinful condition.

Yet, like a good father/mother, He allows us this space because He loves us. He wants us to spread our wings and see how long and high we can fly on our power. Once we call out to Him, He is ready and most willing to be that needed wind beneath our flimsy wings.

During this season of Lent, those of us who are attached to the Lord’s presence reflects with pain on why He had to leave us physically. That was the struggle of His early disciples. They could not understand why He, who said He was God had to die such a humiliating death and eventually leave this earthly life. Why did He have to leave them when they felt so comfortable and protected by His physical presence?

As I mentioned earlier, sometimes, separations are necessary, almost indispensable. Jesus explained it. If He did not leave this mortal life, He could not send the Paraclete. The Paraclete is Jesus, God the Father in another form. It is God just the same. This time His presence is forever. It is a Presence that does not force itself on us. It is a free presence and a freeing presence. We can claim our false freedom and act the way we want. We can leave God’s loving embrace, but God will never leave us. He is never separated from us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Temporarily, only our proud choice to break away from Him. It is we who separate ourselves from God. At least, we think we do. Sometimes, we choose to have nothing to do with Him. Undoubtedly, He is forever there, yet He will only come when we ask Him. The danger is not that He will not come when we call Him, especially if We have strayed from Him too long. The danger is: will we recognize Him?

After we commemorate the physical separation of the Lord on Good Friday, can we say with conviction that we will recognize Him when He comes as risen Lord in Easter? Be careful; His apostles did not. We have an edge though; we have the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Our Light

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