Orphanages are newsworthy in today’s climate. Their original purpose, let alone reason for existence, has, rather conveniently, been forgotten. Often the Churches were asked to conduct such institutions for various reasons which the State couldn’t, or chose not to conduct. Sometimes it did not offer support. Except the “We are grateful” remark. Whatever the history, there were orphans and, indeed, there still are. How do we care in today’s world?
Jesus’ statement “I will not leave you orphans” was in the context that he was leaving, in his current form, and would return, but not in the flesh. Heady stuff around the dinner table. No wonder there was confusion and disbelief and wonderment. We would use the term “out of left field” today in trying to appreciate the phrase “I will not leave you orphans.”
Whatever the mood, we now read that He remains with us in the Holy Spirit. And, one might add, there is the rub. What will that new presence do? Hold our hands? Talk comfortingly? Or suddenly find ourselves in the presence of Samaritans?
We learn, to our discomfort, that “you can’t chain up the Holy Spirit”. There are always grand lessons to be learnt from the work of missionaries, if we will but listen. Yes, it was important for the men in Jerusalem to go to Samaria and lay their hands upon the newly baptised, but it was also the first big lesson for us all, about our trying our best to catch up with the action of God in our world.
We are not orphans awaiting a friendly kiss of comfort, but people accepting a helping hand leading us to the new place of truth.
Let’s eagerly take the proffered hand.