They shall be comforted
Mother Teresa of Calcutta reportedly said that the greatest manifestation of poverty is loneliness. In his November intention, Pope Francis is concerned about those who are lonely and have no friends; but before that he also highlights refugees fleeing in terror from war zones (August) and the needs of those who are mentally disabled (September). In uniting our prayers with the Holy Father and the Universal Church in this way, we are able to pray not only for all these people but also those who have the potential to give a helping-hand, including possibly ourselves. By taking a moment to reflect on the way Mother Teresa linked poverty with loneliness, we can be led down all sorts of avenues, many of which can impact on all the Pope’s prayer requests for the next few months.
I wonder how many lonely people will be glued to the television set during the World Cup, for instance; if we are a football enthusiast, could we think of a lonely person who might like to share the match with us in our own home, on our own television? There must also be thousands of lonely people, anxious and frightened people in the parts of the world where there is upheaval, fighting, cruelty and injustice. Think of the loneliness of a war widow or of bereaved parents who have lost a child as a result of bombardment. We need to show our gratitude to the Lord and be ever mindful as to how we can do our bit, albeit small perhaps, to alleviate loneliness.
The lonely need to know of the omnipresence of God, made visible in Jesus Christ, that same Jesus who experienced loneliness at the moment of our redemption when from the cross he exclaimed: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Mt 27.47). One way or another all these random yet serious issues find a place in Pope Francis’ prayer intentions for the next few months. Could we link our daily offering with and find space in our busy lives for a few moments to alleviate some of these human needs?
Michael Beattie SJ