Today’s first Mass reading is one that always touches me deeply: Paul’s farewell to the presbyters of the Church at Ephesus as he is about to depart for Jerusalem.
Paul knows this is the last time he will see the people he addresses, people he has taught and for whom he doubtless has great love. He is not just going on a short journey from which he will return; he knows he is going toward “imprisonment and hardship.” He doesn’t know exactly what he will face, but he know it will not be good. Yet, “compelled by the Spirit” he goes to Jerusalem to face whatever is put before him.
Paul’s statement of how he has lived his life is a model for all of us: I served the Lord with all humility. I did not shrink from telling you what was for you benefit. I earnestly bore witness to the truth. Perhaps more importantly Paul tells the Ephesians: “I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.”
As I sat with this passage in my prayer this morning, I thought: If I can say the same as I came to the end of my life, that would be enough.