27th Sunday in Ordinary Time reflection by Lori Howard
Today’s first reading begins, “The Lord God said: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.’” Following the last 18 months of Covid restrictions and isolation, these words speak to me. It is very hard to be alone. There are few things as difficult for a person to bear as loneliness. God created us to be communal beings, to live with and for one another. But modern life can be atomizing. Technology has enabled us to live our life with few interactions with other living beings. And the modern world makes living in isolation much more commonplace than it was in the past. We can have our groceries delivered through Amazon Prime, message friends on Facebook and conduct meetings through Zoom. We can go for days without having a live, in-person, interaction with another human being.
A life lived with the support of loving family, friends and community is so rewarding. We weave others into the fabric of our lives and become part of a great, rich tapestry. But it is so hard when an important relationship ends – through death, divorce, or other circumstances. It tears apart this tapestry. This torn and frayed fabric is both a reminder of our loss and a source of continuing pain.
In the Gospel, we are reminded of the suffering that occurs when a marriage ends. A loving marriage is delicate and fragile. When it breaks apart, we face an acute type of suffering and aloneness. Two lives lived as one are suddenly torn in two; it can feel as though a part of ourself has been taken away. When Jesus is asked about his opinion on divorce, a practice at that time that left women completely vulnerable, he challenged the men of the time to focus on God’s plan for marriage – based on love, equality and respect.
When any relationship ends, we need to call on God to give us courage and humility to get through the pain of loss. At the low points of our lives, when we are most discouraged and empty, we must remember the Gospel message – that we are never alone in Christ. God will never forsake us.
As individuals, there are many simple ways to reach out to the marginalized. This can be as simple as engaging in small talk. Take the opportunity to engage with others and make the small connections that add richness to our lives. Smile and acknowledge others. It is easy an an urban environment to hustle past the homeless and other neglected people. A simple smile or hello helps reaffirm the humanity and dignity of the disadvantaged. Check in on friends and relatives that are isolated. Pick up the phone and call someone that may be confined to their home.
As a church community, we also reach out to the lonely and vulnerable. Consider whether one of our outreach ministries could be a good fit for you. Our Love Your Neighbor ministry offers support to and by fellow parishioners in the form of prayer, connection, or a home-cooked meal. Saint Clement’s Friday sack lunch and hospitality provides food and fellowship for the homeless in our neighborhood. Through Catholic Charities, Saint Clement is supporting the resettling of a family from Afghanistan in the United States.
In responding to the call to reach out to the lonely and alone, remember that we are Christ to one another. As St. Teresa of Ávila wrote: “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”