I am often afraid of what I need the most. Intimacy is one of them. And I’m not just narrowly talking about ‘romantic’ intimacy. I’m talking about the kind of intimacy that all human beings need to function: a slightly higher degree of closeness, trust, and vulnerability with certain people.
While I’m definitely working on it, intimacy still scares me — mostly because of the vulnerability it takes to open up to closer encounters. I like my distance. I like my private space. But I also love people. And I know nothing is more worth it than to open oneself up to deeper relationships, since it is a blessing and privilege to take part in other people’s lives.
When it all comes down to it, life is about having meaningful encounters.
According to Pope Francis, sickness isn’t just physical: sickness comes from a life that is devoid of ENCOUNTER — of encountering Christ in the scriptures, in the sacraments, and in the people around us. It comes from a life that is entirely self-centred, unwilling to give, and purposely ignorant of the needs of others. Or it comes from a heart that is too afraid to reach out or let people in. See, a heart that is not loved is sick. But a heart that does not love is even sicker.
We were made to love and for love — it is who we are and who we are meant to be. But if we live a life that is detached from this, we become sick.
“My mission of being in the heart of people is not just a part of my life or a badge I can take off; it is not an ‘extra’ or just another moment in life. Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. ” – Pope Francis (Evangelii Gaudium, 273)
“Sometimes we are tempted to be that kind of Christian who keeps the Lord’s wounds at arm’s length. Yet Jesus wants us to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others.” – Pope Francis (Evangelii Gaudium, 273)
“When we live out a spirituality of drawing nearer to others and seeking their welfare, our hearts are opened wide to the Lord’s greatest and most beautiful gifts. Whenever we encounter another person in love, we learn something new about God. Whenever our eyes are opened to acknowledge the other, we grow in the light of faith and knowledge of God.” – Pope Francis (Evangelii Gaudium, 372)
It may take courage, but let’s stop being ignorant of other people’s needs. Let’s make more time for others, to witness their lives. People need to feel seen, cared for, or at least acknowledged. It might be scary to draw near or to let others draw near, but always remember that it is ultimately Jesus Christ drawing near to us in other forms. Don’t miss out.