“We must love one another or die.” W. H. Auden’s assertion has now been proven. Researchers tell us that emotional loneliness is as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking. Tumors can metastasize faster in those who are lonely. Loneliness causes or exacerbates Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Mother Teresa once observed that “in the developing world there is an epidemic of poverty, in the West an epidemic of loneliness.” In a 2010 survey, one out of three adults said they were “chronically lonely,” meaning that they’ve been lonely for an extended time. A decade earlier, only one in five said that.
How is Maundy Thursday relevant to loneliness?
Today is known by a variety of names: “Maundy Thursday” (Church of England), “Holy Thursday” (Catholic and Methodist), “Covenant Thursday” (Coptic), “Great and Holy Thursday” (Eastern Orthodox), and “Thursday of Mysteries” (Syriac Orthodox). If I were to give today another name, it would be “Communion Thursday.”
On this day in Holy Week, Jesus led his disciples in the Last Supper, a meal many traditions call “Communion.” But our Lord extended communion beyond this event. He prayed fervently for his disciples and all of us as well (John 17). Then he retreated to the Garden of Gethsemane, where he told Peter, James and John, “Remain here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). On this day the Son of God knew how desperately he needed to be with his Father, and with his friends.
Shouldn’t every day be Communion Thursday for us?
__Dr. Jim Denison (Denison Forum on Truth and Culture)