LONELINESS, A THIRST


At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’” (Mk 15: 34-36)

Part of the human pain Christ took on and overcame, on His cross, is “loneliness.” It is a human emotion connected to a certain yearning or “thirst,” which is why, according to another Gospel, at this point the God-Man says, “I thirst” (Jn 19: 28), and is given some vinegar-on-a-sponge. So He shares with us a drink we call “loneliness”… (Excuse me as I’m reminded of a line from The Piano Man)

What is it we “thirst” for, or yearn for, when we feel “loneliness”? Connection. We feel a dis-connect with others, often inexplicably, – sometimes even when “others” are surrounding us at the dinner-table. At the bottom of this, I think, is a thirst for real communion, real one-ness with the rest of the world, which can only be given us in and through our One Creator, God. “Loneliness,” I think, is a tap on the shoulder from God, to come back to Him, that we may be reborn in new life. Just as Christ’s “lonely” Cross led to new life.

What are some of the things our Lord does in His “loneliness” on the Cross? He prays for others (Lk 23: 34); He ministers to others, including the penitent thief (Lk 23: 43) and His beloved disciple, John, and His Mother (Jn 19: 25-27). And He cries out to His Father in the words of a Psalm: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (cf. Ps 21/22: 1) Let me go and do likewise, if I feel “loneliness” today, that it may be life-giving for me and others, in Him.

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