“For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: ‘Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.’ Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.” (Gal 4: 22-28)
In the “new” covenant between God and us, accomplished by His Son, in His Self-offering “negotiation” with our darkness, on His cross, we are given to be born “again,” or “from above” (cf. Jn 3); from “the Jerusalem above,” which is free. Differently from our birth “according to the flesh,” from our biological parents, whom we did not choose, – our birth in Christ, in our baptism, is free, as we may freely choose to embrace and grow in His new life, and bear fruit in this new life, – or not. And this, our freedom and capacity for bearing fruit in Christ, holds true, regardless of the shortcomings of our background or upbringing, and regardless of whether we are a “she who has a husband,” or are “barren” and “do not bear,” “according to the flesh.”
Being lonely, my friends out there, – whether you’re divorced or widowed, or single from the start, or childless and/or lonely within a marriage, – no longer means being useless, as it often did in the Old Testament, and as it was looked upon in the time of the mother of the Theotokos, St. Anna, whose repose is celebrated this Wednesday (NC). Because, in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the life of one connected to His Spirit, “the desolate” can have “many more children than she who has a husband.” Our vulnerability, when we admit being “desolate” without Him, awakens in us a thirst for His new life and His “living water,” by which we can be freed from the death-bringing bondage to the merely-human, and become free-flowing “fountains” of life-bringing grace and usefulness to ourselves and others. “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (Jn 4: 14) So let me embrace Christ today, in some heartfelt prayer, as a “child of promise,” – of His undying promise to me, to make me a “fountain” of His kind of usefulness, “springing” freely “up into everlasting life,” however or whyever I might feel compelled to look “desolate” today.