Beloved Brothers & Sisters,
In Ecclesiastes 4:8 it says:
“There are people who are all alone. They have no children or other family members. So there is no end to all the hard work they have to do. Their eyes are never satisfied with riches. They never ask themselves why they are working so hard and depriving themselves of good things. Even this is pointless and a terrible tragedy.”
Solomon understands that family life, community life, is something essential to human life. In the Church, too, we recognize that almost all of us are called to be part of a family, either a domestic family living in the world, or a monastic family living in a monastery or a skete. I say “almost” because a few, a very few, are called to live in the world as a single persons,* and even fewer are called to live as anchorites, like Mary of Egypt, who live alone in the “desert” to which God has called them. Like Khomiakov says, we are saved together but we fall alone.
St. Paul has not missed the importance of family and community in the Church. In today’s epistle reading (Hebrews 2:11-18) he writes:
“For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: ‘I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly** I will sing praise to You.’ And again: ‘I will put My trust in Him.” And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me’(vs.11-13).
Being in the Church means that we are always part of a family, God’s family! All of us that have joined the Church have been adopted as full family members, being brothers and sisters of Jesus Himself. The Apostle, again, wrote:
“In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:5).
What a joy! We always have a family, and this family supports and effects our salvation. Even when we are physically isolated from each other, as we are under this current epidemic, we are all still closely united spiritually. So don’t forget to pray for each other, care for each other, and take the time to check in on each other, especially the sick, the isolated and the elderly.
* I’m not referring to widows/widowers here. That’s a different topic.
** Literally, in Greek, “in the midst of the church (ἐκκλησίας) I will sing praise to You.”