|Family life is an antidote to isolation!|
"The Spirit drags Jesus into the desert, since he wanted to draw the devil there; and Jesus gave occasion to him not only on account of his hunger but also on account of the place: for then most especially does the devil attack, when he sees people isolated and by themselves."Jesus was attacked and tempted in His isolation. When, I asked myself, have I been most tempted to discouragement and despair? Isn't it when I feel alone, abandoned by those around me? I remember one Christmas years ago when many challenges robbed me of joy. Surrounded by family, I nevertheless felt alone, my spirit locked in darkness. I felt isolated and unhappy, but resisted the temptation to rob joy from those around me. So I smiled and prepared the feast although my heart felt like a stone. By the end of the day, serving others had lifted my spirits considerably. Which I think is a serious lesson. When we stop looking at ourselves in our misery and look outward to others (and especially to the face of Jesus), we cannot remain stuck in the slough of despond.
And then I thought of the present -- the people I know who are alone and isolated for various reasons and what a temptation for them that must be: my brother in the nursing home, my sister who lives alone and doesn't drive and has only a few friends nearby, the people I visit in the local nursing home. What targets for the devil's lies they are as they fight fear and loneliness. It made me pull out my box of postcards to send messages to a few and my note pad to write down names of people to call today.
Isolation is not natural to mankind. Born into families, we are meant to be surrounded by love and support. But how many lack the warmth and comfort that should be their birthright? And what evils result when, instead of being filled with love, a soul is empty and bereft? How many of those engaging in terrible acts of violence are anti-social loners?
Mother Teresa often spoke of poverty, but especially the poverty of loneliness:
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”Whom do you know fighting loneliness? Can you give them a cheery call today or drop a note in the mail or call to arrange a visit? Sunday is a good outreach day. Filled with the grace of receiving Christ in the Eucharist, we are invited to share that grace with others. May your Sunday be blessed with much love, few temptations, and many opportunities to bring joy to others.