The hugs and kisses we miss

18 July 2021 16th Sunday Year B

I was having dinner with my sister’s family recently and the conversation turned to the latest developments regarding COVID-19. At that point my five-year-old niece threw her arms in the air and lamented, “COVID seems to have gone on forever.”

Initially, I brushed it off believing my young niece was being overly dramatic. Sure, a year is a long time but forever? However, thinking about it later I realised she, as a child, was merely expressing her unique viewpoint.

For many people, a year can feel like a long time but from a five-year-old’s perspective, the past year seemed never ending. My brother-in-law and my sister had to explain to her that the past year was a year unlike any other. The first pandemic in a century. No visits from overseas relatives, people had to wear face masks and they could not spend more time shopping than was necessary.

Contact with others was severely limited and families at times could not meet as often as they had in the past. And though my niece has had limited memories and experience of those gatherings, she still missed them and perhaps realised how the people around her also missed them. Families are meant to be together and people are meant to socialise.

During the past year, the only time my niece was able to see my parents and her grandparents was through skype or WhatsApp. There were no hugs or kisses, at least not in the physical sense, and to her, the lack of physical contact must have seemed like ‘forever’.

In the main, people like coming together, to share in each other’s company, to be part of something bigger and to participate in something bigger. To be a part instead of being apart. With the help of technology today, we can virtually come together but in no way can it replace the deep desire for physical contact. Nothing can replace a hug, holding someone’s hand or being physically in the same room with another person.

Or, like in this week’s gospel being in the same place as someone, resting and reflecting together, as was the case with Jesus and the apostles.

My niece wishes for the day when she can physically see my parents. For her it can’t happen soon enough and no doubt a lot of people share her sentiments. So, in faith we wait in joyful hope for that day to come. That we may once again be able to physically hug, to physically hold the people whom we love and who love us and therefore appreciate even more the gift that they are to us and we are to them.

For nothing on earth really lasts forever except in, through, and with God.

Mark Chia CSsR

© Majellan Media 2021