The psalmist tells us that God is the Father of orphans (Ps. 68:5)
This idea of an orphan brings to mind Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist, the boy who grew up with in the funeral house and escaped to London to join the pickpocket juveniles. Oliver sought food, shelter, but above all, acceptance and love.
In these days between the Ascension of our Lord and the Pentecost event, we can feel orphaned at times. Jesus has returned to his Father and he promises to send us the Advocate. Christ does not distance himself from us. Rather, his Ascension brings about a new way of being present to us that is beyond space and history. Now, he is present in all events of the human experience.
Paul believed in this universal presence of Christ, in this communion of love, as he laid hands on the twelve men of Ephesus who received the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-8). But if that may seem to far off in history, today, we also remember our Lady.
On May 13, 1917 our Lady appeared to three shepherd children: Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto. In the height of World War I, Our Lady of Fatima spoke the message of a conversion of heart, repentance from sin, and prayer, especially through the Rosary.
In every generation, Jesus has always sent us saints like Saint Paul and Our Lady of Fatima, to call us back to his love, never to be orphaned, never alone, always belonging to a communion of love.
The most basic thing we hunger for is stated so eloquently by Dicken’s protagonist, Oliver. We are all hungry for love.
Love, for the believer, is always communal. No wonder we encounter him at the Eucharist. Here, no one comes alone. Each Sunday we return to receive Him in the disguise of bread and wine because we need Jesus as we journey through this life, we need him to dwell in us to give us strength and courage to face this day. He says to us, “Take courage, I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).