Beliefnet
The Smoking Priest

Email, Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, text messages…we do live in a different world. I will not deny the good that new technologies can do for all of us. I do a lot of work with the Internet and my Internet ministry has helped a lot of people.

However, technology must not be a substitute for human friendship. An embrace, a handshake, a kiss; all of these basic human things are essential.

Mother Teresa once said, “The highest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.”

It is alarming that so many people live isolated and fractured lives. Like bears unable to awake from winter hibernation, many people are unable to come out of their seclusion.

Mother Teresa also said, “There is more hunger in the world for love and appreciation than for bread.” 

The caverns of isolation are dark indeed. Some fill the wasted hours of the evening with mindless television, while others spend hours on the computer accumulating Facebook friends that they do not even know.

What has caused this terrible darkness?

Thornton Wilder’s famous novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, ends with these words: “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”

Love is the light that pierces through the obscurity. Self-absorption extinguishes the brightness.

The Bible tells us that true friendship is an uncommon commodity. “A faithful friend is a sure shelter, whoever finds one has found a rare treasure” (Ecclesiasticus 6: 14).

In a world torn apart by war, violence, hatred, confusion and chaos, we all need to be ambassadors of God’s love for humanity. We need to show the world that love is possible. We need to show the world that we believe in love!

I would suffocate and die if I could not live each day in love.

How absurd it is to be selfish. Only Jesus, the icon of the Father’s love for you and me, shows us how to love. His way is simple, practical and clear. His way is spelled out for us in the New Testament. Love, love and love more and more each day. Stretch your heart and love more each day.

One Sunday morning a man walked into a Catholic Church. He had not been to church in a very long time. After the Mass was finished, he went up to the priest and embraced him. The man began to weep profusely. As the priest tried to calm the troubled man, he told the priest that he was about to take his own life the day before under a bridge next to the beach. However, a group of young people from the parish had decided to go to the same beach and pass out cans of Coke with a card that said, “God loves you.”

That one act of friendship saved the man’s life.

I am sure that there is someone right now that needs your friendship. Maybe that person is a member of your family, your neighbor, a co-worker, a parishioner, maybe even your pastor.

How about getting away from the freaking computer for a few minutes and give that person a call or even knock on his or her door?

“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”

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