We have all encountered separation anxiety at some time in our lives. When we are working away from a loved one, on assignment somewhere, or just feeling lonely by not being near those dear to us.
Today, with all that is going on with the coronavirus pandemic, we are faced with a dilemma. When we have a calamity, the tendency is to assemble and pray. The churches fill, the site the shooting becomes a shrine, we offer moments of silence as we recognize the dead. We are a belonging people; we belong to each other; we belong to God. When we want to show this belonging and the love which fuels it, we meet in groups. Now, however, we are asked to show our love differently.
We separate, and by separating, we show our love for each other. It is the antithesis of what we have come to expect. Indeed an unnatural act for our hearts. The separation amplifies the need to be together, to love, to share, to be empathic, to be. The strengthing of our love of each other and God is a gift we all share. We will see, as in times of war, the sacrificial love which our loving Savoir brought us in His mission on earth. The Passionists recognize how the power of sacrifice and suffering transforms into love. Today, we sit at the foot of the Cross along with Mary, waiting for the pain to end; yet at the same time, we endure the longing to reconnect.
This week, perhaps, we can begin to understand the gift of love which comes from the separation from each other. How we are giving, indirectly, the gift of health by not assisting the spread of this virus, and making ourselves that sacrifice for a small part of our lives.
The theological meaning of this work is not lost on us. Jesus offered himself sacrificially, with no strings attached, purely to illustrate what our behavior was supposed to be. Today we are asked to do a little of this ourselves.
So this week, we separate for a few days so we can be together again. It is something to remember when we return to those selfish moments; when understanding for others becomes lost to a momentary glance at our own needs.