Being Alone Vs. Being Lonely


The first Sunday of Lent always holds a small sense of reprieve for me.  Even though it has just begun, the first few days are a doosey.  It’s kind of feels like if you are climbing a mountain and you make it to the first plateau.  You take a deep breath, stretch, and then maybe a sip of water, and then start climbing higher.  The first glimpse of the summit from that place may not be as stunning as when you reach the top, but its a view that gives you hope and makes you want to keep going, because you know something beautiful is waiting, and you know that when you see it, it will be worth all the effort you put into it.  You might almost say, like Jesus in this Sunday’s gospel, there is a sense of being driven forth.

Mark 1:12-15

At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, 13 and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. 

The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry. 14 After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: 15 “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

  • “At once the Spirit drove him out…”
    • Many of us use Matthew Kelly/Dynamic Catholic’s “Best Lent Ever” program to aid our Lenten journey, and although short, the reflections are powerful.  This week there was an emphatic notice of the word “DROVE” which pointed us all in the same direction.
      • Matthew Kelly remarks that the word “drove” in this reading depicts the sensation of a flower bud that is ready to bloom; it is almost painful for the bud to contain the flower that needs to come out.
    • When we ask God to watch over us, to help us follow Him, HE WILL answer that prayer.  Even if it maybe means preventing us from making a bad decision or going against Him, if we have surrender that will to Him.  The Spirit drove Jesus because He knew it was his to be driven.  He was relying on God to “drive” his purpose.
    • Lent is a welcoming into deeper prayer with Christ; it is a way to simplify and get back to what really matters.  A way by which we are invited to deepen our relationship with Christ.
    • Notice “drove” is more like “pushed” and not “lead”.  To be lead by something implies a willingness to follow; to be pushed is more like “forced”.  It really implies the power with which Jesus knew he must go to his Father and prepare for what was about to happen.
    • Drove indicates the spirit of commitment we must embrace for ourselves as we head into this Lenten season.
  • Why are these two paragraphs together for this Sunday’s reading? It seems odd (in the scriptures they are actually spaced apart as the end and beginning of separate chapters) that these two are our first Sunday reading together?
    • “After spending time in the desert…” Was Jesus also getting too comfortable in his life as we do?
      • It is hard to know where the man of Jesus and God in him are separated and come together; it is a mystery for us.
    • Perhaps the harsh environment of the wilderness was to demonstrate for us how we in our situations must prepare and strengthen ourselves for the “wilderness” and forces that come against us as we try to come closer to God and be a light in the world.
    • Perhaps these paragraphs are together for this reason? To demonstrate what we need to do in strengthening ourselves in prayer before trying to minister or go on to the next big thing?
  • and the angels ministered to him…We must keep in mind that we are never alone in the battles that we fight or the things that come against us.  The forces of heaven and the angels are with us.

*We pray to the Holy Spirit to guide us through our gospel reflections; we ask questions together and work through some answers together, and sometimes we search for the answers later.  These reflections are meant to be used as a guide to us as we explore what the gospels mean for each of us in response to Jesus’s example; not as an interpretation of the bible.

Case: “Unlikely Roommates

We discussed the situation that seems to be catching on in different parts of the world where a younger person and an elderly person are matched to be roommates.  The program which seems to be aiding loneliness as well as illness (studies show these factors are greatly linked) can also aid the financial and functional challenges a young person can face as they embark on their own journey in life.

Parallel cases were other situations in which members of our groups had befriended an elderly person who made a positive impact on their life, as well as felt the importance of caring for others in a world where so many are lonely.

We felt although the world may not see the need or value of an older person, or someone of different age, race, religion, etc., each individual soul has great value and is precious. We took the example of Jesus in ministry to the outcasts and sick in society to make this point to us all; to watch his example of healing, and call those deep in sin to a life of repentance in the fullness of his love and mercy.

Jesus was driven into the desert so he could be strengthened by being ALONE with His Heavenly Father, as we all should be doing–not just during Lent–but every single day.  When we spend time alone with our God, we understand the dignity we have simple because He made us; we belong to Him.  Once we have established our value and dignity as a result of God’s love for us, we can share that love and complete the cycle of love that flows from God to those around us who are lonely and do not feel that value, thereby recognizing that being alone in our time for God, necessitates the prevention of what Saint Teresa of Calcutta recognized as the greatest poverty, which is that loneliness.

Theological Virtue: HOPE

Human Virtue: Justice

Spiritual Resolution: Prayer for Healing (below)

Prayer for Healing

Apostolic Action: Reach out to someone who is lonely with the intention of restoring some sense of value and dignity (that they possess simply by being a child of God, as He loves us all).



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