For many people, these weeks of isolation have been weeks of increasing loneliness as friends and family keep their distance. Being physically separated from our loved ones is especially hard. Without other people with whom to share our concerns, smaller problems can grow out of proportion. No wonder the first member of the public to put a question to the Health Secretary at a daily briefing asked when she would be able to hug her grandchildren again. Yes, loneliness is painful.
Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus said to his disciples, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age”. At times when our feelings of loneliness may be particularly acute, we can remember how the Gospels tell us that Jesus is present in an intimate way.
Jesus would invite himself round to people’s houses. We’ll remember his conversation in their home with Martha and Mary. Sharing a meal with someone is one way in which we share intimacy. Jesus did the same. They complained he ate with tax collectors and sinners. At the end of Luke’s Gospel, the two disciples who were walking the road to Emmaus recognised the Risen Jesus when they shared a meal with him. These images of intimacy express the intimacy of our relationship with Jesus too.
Why not invite Jesus into your home today? When you sit down for a meal, imagine what it was like for those disciples to eat with Jesus.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus is still more intimate. Jesus uses the image of a vine and its branches to express the relationship he has with his followers. “I am the vine; you are the branches”. Just think, the sap that flows up through the vine flows into the branches. What gives life to the vine, give life to the branches. What gives life to Jesus, gives life to us, his disciples, as well. And at the end of this same Gospel, when Jesus appears to his disciples huddled together in the locked room, he says to them, “Peace be with you”. Then he breathes on them saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit”. The disciples breath with the breath of Jesus. What gives life to Jesus, gives life to his disciples too.
Dear Lord, when today I feel alone, help me remember your promise to be with us always. Help me to remember the intimacy your shared with your disciples: the homes you visited, the conversation you had, the meals you shared. May I remember that I live with what gives you life, that you are closer to me than I am even to myself. Help me to know your peace and feel your presence and, when the opportunity arises, to share your presence with others.We ask this in his name, Jesus the Lord. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.