What kinda ‘gone’ are we talking about here? A homily for the Solemnity of the Ascension (C)

There’s a great country song out there by Chris Cagle, What kinda gone.  It tells the story of a rather clueless guy whose girlfriend takes off, leaving him uncertain about the nature of her departure….After telling the background, the song goes, “Thought I heard her say something sounding like ‘I’m gone’…but these days gone can mean so many things…..and then it goes to the refrain

There’s gone for good, and there’s good and gone
And there’s gone with the long before it
I wish she’d been just a little more clear.
Well, there’s gone for the day and gone for the night
And gone for the rest of your dod’ gone life.
Is it a whiskey night, or just a couple beers?
I mean what kinda’ gone are we talkin’ ’bout here?

It’s a great tune.  Today, as we celebrate the Ascension, we remember that it was 40 days after the Resurrection and surely the disciples of Jesus were asking the same thing after Jesus tells them: In just a little while, I am going back to the Father

Surely they were asking: what kinda gone are we talking about here?

Now we all know something about different types of “gones.”

  • Some ‘gones’ are easy.  Sometimes someone is in your life and dives you bonkers. It is a blessing to see them walk away
  • Some ‘gones’ you expect, but they’re still hard. Saying goodbye to a college or school you’ve been a part of for a long time, moving to a new city, going to a new grade level or school, graduations….
  • Some ‘gones’ are hard.  Fifth grade class leaving, employees who depart, parishioners who move away for leave the parish
  • Some ‘gones’ are really hard.  When a child leaves home, when a good friend moves away, when a coworker you love gets a new job, when someone walks out of your life, when a priest leaves his parish for a new assignment
  • Some ‘gones’ are really, really hard.  When someone leaves and you fear it might be forever.

Life is a series of having to ‘let go.’  It was this last category that the disciples feared

“A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.”  With the Lord, goodbyes are not final.

CS Lewis said, no such thing as goodbye

“My dear graduates, brothers and sisters, after today we may never meet again in this holy place. But in our individual spheres we will witness – as we witness here – the daily miracle of God’s presence that continually, eternally binds us together, that gives us the courage, strength and will to rise up and see the glory of His wonder-working power, even as we move from this place to another place and another place after that, as we wander the earth as pilgrims of the promise until at last the roll is called and we discover ourselves bound on that final journey and the saints of God, gathered on that shore will show us to another hillside where we will find our great reunion day– After all, has he not promised His salvation to those who accept the call: The lot has fallen upon you. Love one another.” Fr Denis Robinson, OSB