This is one of those things to read at night, when you’re mellow.
Think of those nights when you watch a movie alone, one of those movies where there is some kind of heroic ending – where someone comes and saves the day, and the heroes are smiling and crying and laughing all at the same time. Those moments. You know what I mean? Like in Interstellar when the daughter makes everything her dad did worth it, or like in Full House when Danny Tanner hugs his daughter who drove the car through the front door or garage, and yet he accepts her. In war movies, it’s the victory of either the battalion or the whole army, or simply the positive ending in the war. Emotions are high, people are joyous, and they live happily ever after. Think of the times when you see these things alone, that you go back into the inventory of your mind, and look for happier days – days of fellowship and unity and joy. Think of those times where when you see these things, you turn off the lights or you drive away, that you are overcome with tears of sadness or loneliness.
It’s those times of night, of solitary silence, where one may feel lonely or isolated. It is in those moments of silence that one strives to find meaning in existence, that one wonders what one is doing with life. It is in those moments that we question our purpose, our meaningfulness, our raison d’etre – even though the trigger for it might not have been as meaningful as we would have liked.
It is because we have become very lonely. Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will wax cold, said our Lord. How so very true. Lawlessness is having no rules, having no boundaries, having nothing sacred to hold to, other than the self. Of course, if this is how we live, the result is lack of love, because that is the definition of lovelessness! If love is to deny myself for another thing, than lawlessness is to love myself above everything other than me. Why are we lonely? Because everyone is choosing him or herself over everyone else. I am choosing myself over others and over God. So in these moments in which one seeks companionship, one finds one’s self, and one’s self is not good company all the time.
We have lost commonality because we serve our own purposes. Our Christian communities have forgotten Christ. Our secular communities change with the wind. Nothing is fixed; nothing is stable. Nothing is concrete; nothing is anchored. We are trying to find stability in ourselves and hence we are not finding it, because we have forgotten that we were designed. We are not arbitrary, but we are living arbitrarily. Hence, we feel sadness. Like an engineered design will not function properly if one uses the thing contrary to how it was designed, we, too, when functioning contrary to our design, feel wrong outcomes.
We were designed to be in community, but we isolate ourselves. We are plugged in to social networks, but we have lost meaningful conversation. We go to Church but Christ is not in our minds or hearts, so we lose the comfort of religious community. We want to have more things, so we only spend time with the things or people who will get us those things. until we get those things. So, we lose the intrinsic value of non-selfish relationships. Because we are greedy, other people are poor. Because we are arrogant, someone else is put down. Because we exalt ourselves, someone else is abased. Because we desire fame, someone else is forgotten. Because we see only ourselves, we are lonely.
The Gospel says to comfort the sad, to feed the hungry, to clothe the poor, to visit the imprisoned. These are both literal and spiritual in their manifestations. Someone may need to be clothed not just physically, but because they feel naked. Someone may need a visit in their prison, not just a physical one, but a metaphorical one – the prison of their thoughts or their sadness. Someone may need you to walk with them two miles because they need your help carrying something, or because they need someone to talk to about their thoughts, their lives, and their challenges.
Those people in the movies or on television, we are moved by those scenes because we want that thing that they have. That thing that is in common, is their commonality. The moving movies are not the ones where someone goes it alone, where someone fought for only himself for the sake of the self, they’re the ones where people die together for a cause, or alone for a cause – but the cause is always something outside of the hero and that binds the hero to everyone else – something real, something concrete, something right, something good.
The only thing good is God. The only people we have are one another.
Lord, teach us to love.