by Ken Rolheiser
Remembering hugs we have been missing

I would like you to recall the ten best hugs you had before Covid -19 came along. Now we remember again what we are missing. The lonely senior, the insecure teen, the – well, everyone who has missed family and friends and loved ones we cannot visit during the pandemic.

“The story is told of a very pious Jewish couple who married with great love. In due time they had a son Mordecai who was rambunctious and zestful. The night before his studies were to begin, his parents told him how important the Word of God was.

The next day Mordecai was in the woods, swimming and climbing the trees. He refused to go to his lessons. 

They tried everything, even calling in the behaviorists and psychoanalysts who failed in turn. Finally they took him to The Great Rabbi. 

“Leave the boy with me,” he said. The Great Rabbi picked him up and held him silently against his heart. 

The following day, Mordecai went to the synagogue to learn the Word of God. Mordecai grew to be a great man. People came to him and found peace. 

Oh, the power of a hug: Sometimes I just want someone to hug me and say, “I understand your pain. It’s going to be ok. Here’s a coffee and two million dollars…”

They say a small hug is worth a million unspoken words. We have been getting the words lately, but missing the hugs. Small wonder there is so much depression and anxiety in our world.

One of my ten hugs remembered was visiting my granddaughter in her first month of life. I just sat and held her for two and a half hours, storing it up. She even rested a little past her feeding time.

On a second visit, after holding her for some time, she awakened, listened to my gibberish for a while, and then gave me the sweetest smile that surely came from an angel. 

And I reflected on that. We should put ourselves into God the Father’s arms and rest there for a while. We should awaken and give Him a smile. I know he loves us more deeply than I am capable of loving!

We can enjoy God’s embrace when we are in communion with Jesus. St Teresa of India tells us when she and her nuns were exhausted, they would seek the Lord in communion at Mass and this would restore them.

We need to become like little children, snuggled in those Fatherly arms. “Keep holding me tight, Abba.”

Allow the Lord to touch us. “He will heal our wounds, our brokenness,” Father Brendan McGuire says. “When we come to this altar today, we come to receive that Body and Blood of Christ. That is his kiss of love. ‘I love you. Yes. I know what you have done. I still love you’.”

Jesus said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings." (Matthew 23:37).

Let the Great Rabbi Jesus hold us and let us listen to His heart beat. 

Lord, it surprises me how much you love me. You whisper softly, and you are found in gentleness. Open my heart to your daily gifts. Let me be gracious for all your love that teases our senses daily.

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