“You shall never be alone again”
6th Sunday of Easter
The Rev. Leonard Oakes
Separation anxiety can be very devastating. When parents send their sons or daughters to college away from home, there is a feeling of immediate loneliness and fear. Loneliness as to feel living apart with your love in a distance; and fear that if something happens to him or her, the parents are not there in an instant to tend to his or her needs.
Perhaps there’s more fear on parents who have to send their sons and daughters who enlisted to the armed forces to an assignment where danger is present. One mother came to me and said, “Fr. Please pray for the safety of my son, he will be assigned in Afghanistan and eventually in Syria.” I saw the face of fear in her eyes. We stood at the altar and prayed for God to send the Holy Spirit, the advocate, to keep him from harms way.
It becomes harder to comprehend when all these things about separation anxiety continue to haunt us even when we reach the retirement age. When our children have to move out and start their own, leaving you home alone. It is even unimaginable when your own family didn’t even have the chance to visit you when you were at a retirement home, so desolate, crying why do you have to go through this?
Another devastating situation in life is Isolation and the fear of dying. I know many people who are battling from Cancer, some are my patients and some are friends. Some of them ended up isolating themselves not letting anybody know their status. They even refused anyone to come and visit them. Although some have the courage to inform their family and friends about it, but to most, they chose such as a private matter and detached themselves from the rest.
This cycle goes on from one person to another, from age to age. The fear of being separated or isolated continue on.
Even our Lord Jesus Christ knew what it meant to be all alone. Not too long after Jesus said the words “My God My God why have you forsaken me.” In that moment he took our sins on him and knew what it meant to be separated from God. In that moment he experienced true aloneness.
But Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ for sending the Holy Spirit, our counselor, who will guide and protect us and fill up the gap while we await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ who promised to go prepare a place for us and will come back to take us with him so that where he goes, there we may be also.
Jesus promised that his disciples would never be all alone! In our reading today he tells his disciples that he will not leave them “orphaned” or “desolate.” He will send another “counselor” to be with them, an “advocate” to encourage them. In short Jesus will make sure that there is someone to stand with them. Someone to guide, comfort and teach them. This is the most comforting words we heard from our lord Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus and the Father are made present in our lives. Through them we are never alone whether in a crowd or when no one else is around. Whether we fall into the pit of separation anxiety, or when a great heavy burden is placed on our shoulders due to economic hardships or even death.
But all this talk of being alone and not being alone is framed by statements about keeping Jesus’ commands. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever.” “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Jesus Christ is truly present with us through the Holy Spirit. When we share Holy Communion and in the prayers, or act according to Jesus’ teaching, Jesus is there. He is in our hearts and souls. Jesus is really present by the Holy Spirit of God. So come, for Jesus has promised that we are never alone; we are not orphans. He is with us in the breaking of the bread, in the sharing of the cup and in living the Godly life and in our community building.
I thank God for allowing us all here to share a generous heart to provide each other good words and supports and in many other ways. Thank God for sending the Holy Spirit to inspire us all to love others and be compassionate and just to support each other through thick and thin. We may have all the luxury in life but if we have not loved, and have no mercy, we are nothing. Love therefore is what brought us all here; love is the reason why we are living.
And that is what we do here. We experience the presence of the Father’s Love in our service to each other and to others. It is like the mother who cuddles her child to provide a comfortable feeling.
I ask you therefore my dear brothers and sisters to keep in our hearts the words of Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” So that when confronted with the forces of anxiety and despair, loneliness and emptiness, we may find hope in the Love of God the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ and the assurance of the Holy Spirit who guides and comforts us.
We shall never forget to pay tribute to all the men and women in uniform whose unbroken line of heroes have borne the heaviest burden for the freedom that we enjoy today. (May I ask all the veterans to please rise so we could thank you for the services you rendered. Round of applause.) Let us give thanks to their families as well, for allowing them to stand for freedom and peace. Thank you to all peace lovers and for sharing the love we now enjoy. Let the flag of our country continue to fly freely as a symbol of democracy and freedom, for to it the spirits of those who have gone before us is forever remembered.
May we continue to carry the torch of freedom and peace so that our children and our grandchildren will reap the good fruits of their labors. Amen.