Of Being Social-Distanced

June 28, 2020 – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062820.cfm)


Not until the first quarter of this year that we come to experience and be familiar with the term: “social distancing”. To protect ourselves from Corona Virus infection, nowadays we normally resort to social distancing. To avoid being infected by others or possibly infect others as well, we now set apart and maintain a safe distance from others as we assume that the world around us is getting sick, and we can easily get sick.

Safe and practical it is and would be, social distancing is never been that easy as observed and practiced. Simply because social distancing is particularly painful to us  for it requires of us not only the physical bodily distance but also the  experience of being and feeling isolated, lonely and cast-out/cast-off from one another. Being physically quarantined, isolated, set apart, distanced, marginalized, suspected, and monitored could make us also personally feel marginalized, segregated, ostracized, stigmatized, outcasted, feared, unwelcome, abandoned, lost and forgotten. With or without viral pandemic, physical and social distancing has always been painful and difficult (even traumatic) experience for all of us for it deprives us of our need for personal intimacy, closeness and relationships. In other words, social distancing hurts because it is not only physical but also personal.

It is but natural and life-giving for us to connect, relate and interact as persons. More just being social animals, social inter-actions and interpersonal relationships are very important dimension of our lives. And a song would insist, “No man is an island.. No one stands alone.” We are not just being with others but we are human PERSONS with others. We grow, live and thrive in life as community of persons: Persons related and relating with others personally. That is why to live life alone, distance, and isolated is difficult, painful and discouraging indeed.

Our readings today reminds of the great value of our interpersonal relationships both in life and faith. Jesus in our gospel today appeals for us to “receive me”, “love me”, “follow me”. He invites us to have a personal intimate relationship with Him. Like any of us, he wants us to be close to Him as much as He wants to be close with us personally.

Being Christian, as Paul emphasized, we are WITH Christ: personally related with Jesus in death, life and resurrection. And like in the first reading, to be personally welcoming  and hospitable host to our guests would blessed and graced us with the gifts of their person, to receive and love the person Jesus in our lives personally is to personally be with and share with His divine life with our Father.

Personal intimacy, closeness and connected with Jesus and with one another as community is indeed promising and life-giving. While social distancing and isolation is sickening and life-threatening indeed.

While we suffer physically and personally with social distancing  for safety and protection from infection nowadays, we may take this trying times as opportunity for us to review, reflect and renew the quality of our personal relationships with God, with our family and friends and our community. Just because we are physically constrained and apart, it does not mean we are not and cannot anymore be connected with one another personally. Distancing thus could also be a chance to improve the quality of our faith, personal life and inter-personal relationships.

For instance, social distancing may have deprived of us to celebrate Sunday Eucharist and worship as community of faith, but it could also make us improve the quality of our Spiritual Communion with Jesus and our participation as we hope and look forward to the coming opportune time for celebration. We also may find more quantity and quality time and improved lifestyle with our own selves and with our loved ones now, and thus be in touch with most essential and important in ones life.

In other words, since social distancing is personal, so let us make it more personal, let us get more and Better Personal…. And improve the Quality of our personal, social and spiritual life during this time.

On my fifty-ish age and nearing my silver years as Redemptorist missionary priest, perhaps my five-year old musings below could be of assistance in reflecting about our experience of social distancing nowadays:

“Paradox of being with others”

Along the way, we suffer two things being with others: too much & too little – of closeness and distance. Too much and too little Closeness & too much and too little Distance. Coping with these both blocks our growth in relationships as well as forms and sharpens us to be better person for and with others. Ultimately it moves us to be intimately independent as well as independently intimate with one another.

As we are personally in faith with the Lord, may we communally not be separated from Him and one another,  and  may we not lose life but rather find Life meaningfully. Amen.

(By: Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay CSsR, a Filipino Redemptorist  Missionary stationed in Gwangju South Korea, though now still stranded in Cebu until further notice for available flights.)


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