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13th August: Alone or Lonely?

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Mark 10:32

Some of us are gregarious, some of us are loners. Given the choice, I should prefer a day bird-watching or hill-walking to being at an exuberant party or watching a football match! Whether we are sociable beings or not, working in a hospital can be a lonely pursuit. Although we may be on a crowded ward or part of an operating team, we can feel lonely if we lack colleagues or friends that we can share with.

However, loneliness and aloneness are not the same thing! Jesus could be alone with the Father as he prayed on a hillside and yet not feel lonely. On the road to Jerusalem his disciples shrank back from him in fear and puzzlement at this man who walked with steadfast face towards certain death; he was not alone, and yet it is likely that he felt a measure of loneliness. He said in other place, 'A time is coming and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone'... humanly speaking very lonely, 'yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me' (Jn 16:32 NIV). But he endured supreme loneliness on the cross when he cried, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' Jesus knows about loneliness, as well as aloneness.

So whether you are a loner by nature or fond of company, whether you lack close companions or are surrounded by real friends, you can find strength for times of loneliness by recalling our Lord's promise, 'Surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age' (Mt 28:20 NIV). You may, as a Christian feel lonely from time to time, but you are never alone!

Lord, thank you for enduring misunderstanding, betrayal,
desertion and denial for me. Thank you for experiencing
the horror of loneliness on the Cross. Help me when I
feel lonely to know that I am never alone. Help me, in
turn, to be a caring companion to others.

Further reading: Mk 10:32-34. Jn 16:25-33.


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