I Have No One!

Fr. Francis Scaria

Smiley face “I have no one” is a cry that we often hear. The man who had suffered for 38 years made Jesus hear this cry (cf. Jn 5:7). Jesus made him feel that He was all for him. The Church has a special role to play among people who feel ‘I have no one’. The farmers who are weighed down by debt and reach the brink of suicide, the women who constantly face harassment, the children who never experienced love – all these are people who keep muttering ‘I have no one’.

In fact, Jesus too had this experience of being abandoned by everyone. His disciples deserted, denied and betrayed him. In a state of being abandoned by all he cries out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). At the first sight, it may appear to be a cry expressing his helplessness and despair. No doubt, he humbled himself to feel the state of the common man and experienced frustration almost to the extent of helplessness. But in Jesus we find a way out. When we come to know that in the midst of his excruciating suffering, Jesus was intoning Psalm 22, we are led to reflect deeply on handling our unbearable human suffering. The initial lines of the psalm echo the complaint, “O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest” Ps 22:2). In verse 11, the psalmist tells, “there is no one to help”. As the psalm progresses, the psalmist experiences the nearness of God. “For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him” (Ps 22:24).

Look at the prayer of Esther! We are told in the opening words of Chapter 14, “Then Queen Esther, seized with deadly anxiety, fled to the Lord”(Esth 14:1). She prays to the Lord, “O my Lord, you only are our king; help me who am alone and have no helper but you, ... (Esth 14:3). She repeats this cry in verse 14. She ends the prayer saying, “save me from my fear” (Esth 14:18). One who trusts in the Lord overcomes the fear. The incidents that followed tell us how Esther was successful against her enemies. Psalmist says, “With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me? (Ps 118:6) Prophet Isaiah proclaims, “Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.”(Is 35:4) Is 41:10 says, “do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Ps 43 is very descriptive. “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Ps 43:1-3).

St. Paul shares his experience in these words, “At my first defence no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (2 Tim 4:16-18)

A believer cannot ever say, ‘I have no one’ because everyone of us is assured by God, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). In Jn 14:16 Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever”.

Being alone is a physical reality, while feeling lonely is a psychological reality. There may be or may not be any connection between the two. A person may not have anyone physically around, but may not feel lonely. Another person may have many people around her/him and still she/he may feel lonely. It is said that we all have our sweet spot of social interaction. Loneliness can be temporary or chronic. Chronic loneliness drives one to depression and can be very dangerous. Some studies have shown that chronic loneliness can lead to cancer, heart-disease or blood pressure.

For a Christian, Solitude is associated with growth in religious experience. Some psychologists do argue that human beings are basically social beings and being alone is unhealthy. What they forget is that our world is greater than what is apparent and our realm of relationships is not limited to the human. We are also spiritual beings called into communion with the divine. Solitude helps us to communicate with the divine. And the divine teacher teaches us also lessons that unravel great many mysteries hidden even in our ordinary human lives. Loneliness can be disastrous; but solitude is liberating.

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