“At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit”…
…”Whenever you enter a town
and they do not make you welcome,
go out into its streets and say,
“We wipe off the very dust of your town
that clings to our feet,
and leave it with you. “
One of the greatest human fears is to be alone.
God understands this and immediately after the creation of Adam God reflects: “It is not good that man be alone.”
Tragically many people when asked to give a word to describe Catholic faith might not offer “relationship” or “friendship” in their response. A common fear is that a yes to Christ is a no to human intimacy.
Yet the evidence is that human striving to connect with others using easily available approaches and apps leaves the seeker feeling exhausted and isolated.
It seems like an irony when the one who places Jesus Christ at the centre of their existence finds quality friendship with God and with others who also seek Christ.
Jesus sends his disciples out in pairs suggesting that one quality friendship is a good start, that is friendship with Jesus Christ. The first fruit of this divine relationship is the discovery of true friendship with others who also seek Christ.
These quality friendships give the freedom necessary to enable us to let go of a compulsive desire for human connection according to earthly measures, often reduced to business connection with colleagues or physical intimacy with partners.
In this new-found maturity we discover that we can shake the dust of desire for what is superficial in human encounters and set our hearts on the quality of interaction that God has created us for.
“The one who fears to be alone will never be anything but lonely, no matter how much they may surround themselves with people. But the one who learns, in solitude and recollection, to be at peace with their own loneliness, and to prefer its reality to the illusion of merely natural companionship, comes to know the invisible companionship of God. Such a one is alone with God in all places, and this one alone truly enjoys the companionship of other people, because they love them in God in Whom their presence is not tiresome, and because of Whom His own love for them can never know satiety.” Thomas Merton
Fr Mark said something very similar in his homily at Bethlehem this morning …thank you God for our human friendships and partnerships where we can become closer to God