Fr. Michael Schleupner will be serving as a spiritual director this August during our Directed Retreat. If you’d like to learn more about him or the retreat, please click here. He offered this reflection on Sunday, for the Sixth Sunday of Easter.
A Comfort for Loneliness
Gospel: John 14:15-21
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Some years ago, the University of Chicago released the results of a study on loneliness. The study finds that about 25% of people frequently feel lonely.
Among the factors causing this are our longer life spans, more years spent in widowhood, and the rising number of single-person households. The study says that loneliness has more to do with the quality than the quantity of relationships.
For example, incoming first-year college students are often lonely during the first quarter of school. This is true even though they have roommates and are surrounded by many peers.
In today’s gospel, Jesus addresses this very human issue. He senses the apostles’ anxiety about being left alone, without him.
And so, Jesus says, “I will not leave you orphans. You will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.”
Jesus promises to be with us through his Spirit. And then Jesus makes his presence through the Spirit concrete in a very special way: the sacraments.
Our sacraments are visible, earthly, physical ways for Jesus to be with us through the Spirit. The supreme experience of this is the Eucharist.
In the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest prays over the bread and wine. “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, by sending down your Spirit upon them… so that they may become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
These gifts, the bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ, become the means for Jesus through his Spirit to be with us. As Jesus says, “you live in me and I live in you.”
So, Jesus addresses a troublesome human feeling today – loneliness – and he gives us at least one way to deal with it.
~ Father Michael Schleupner