Alone Together: Lent 5

Posted Thu, 03/18/2021 - 12:12 by Katharine

In the fifth blog of the series for Lent 5 National Ecumenical Officer for the Catholic Bishops' Conference, Fr. Jan Nowotnik, reflects on Hebrews 5: 7-9 and the reminder that we are not alone.

During his life on earth, Christ offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his power was heard. Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation. Hebrews 5: 7-9

This time last year as Italy was beginning to suffer the effects of coronavirus, I left my desk in the library at the English College in Rome fully expecting to be back there before the end of the summer to complete my academic life with my friends and surrounded by the now familiar iconic beauty of Rome. This was not to be, my return was brief, a snatched week in July thanks to a permissive travel corridor to pack up my things and get my belongings back to the UK and life in London.

My new life brought me to the capital city as the National Ecumenical Officer for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference. I never imagined that I would start my work during such a strange time, working from home and meeting new colleagues and friends for the first time via zoom. Never did I imagine I would become so proficient with these technological means. Neither would I have believed that I would see London so quiet and have the privilege to enjoy the city streets, sometimes in solitude, as I take my daily exercise.

When I pass my fellow walker or jogger or cyclist on the street, I wonder what their life is like. Who will they go home to, family, friends, husband or wife, or perhaps like me they live alone? What is in their heart at that moment, what are the joys and what troubles them? In a fleeting moment I see my brother and sister, sometimes there is a hint of acknowledgement, sometimes the flicker of a smile, hinted from behind a mask, we are alone together!

In his agony in the Garden Jesus offered up prayer and entreaty for the world. On the eve of his Passion Jesus spent intimate moments with his Father, praying for the needs of the world. Seemingly he was all alone, but he was comforted by his Father and so became the source of eternal salvation.

So, we are not alone! We share with each other the joys and sorrows of human life, and the pandemic has broken down barriers as coronavirus is no respecter of boundaries that we put up. It has taken a disease to remind us that we are not alone, but that we are brothers and sisters who are responsible for each other. When I feel alone or down, in my Christian faith I join myself to the Lord’s prayers in the Garden and I know I am loved and cared for as God consoles me with his powerful gift of love. I know that I am called to share this with those whom I encounter on the journey. So, the next time I am out walking I pray for those with whom I share that space and hope that they are not alone, and that they know the peace and love of God, whatever is happening for them at that moment.