As we approach the season of Christmas, in this secular world we live in, many people are preparing for the festivities by buying food, drinks, presents and all else they need to make the day a joyful and plentiful one. Already around here some houses have decorated Christmas trees and lights at their windows for all to see - and it's been so since mid-November.
Whilst all this excess is being planned and enjoyed in the days from Christmas to the New Year, we tend to forget those who are alone and may well spend the day with just their memories for company.
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society near us are already putting together parcels of food and other presents which they plan to donate to those they know are alone and perhaps cannot even afford a proper meal.
In an age of great advancements in technology with many communications gadgets and services like cell-phones, internet, social media, texts and so on; we still have the destructive blight of loneliness which can destroy all hope from one's soul.
It is not always the old who are alone in their homes with no one for company. Loneliness can affect all ages and all walks of life. You can be in a crowd with friends, colleagues, church members, and you are still alone ... inside.
Anyone in such a situation should remember that you are not alone. Christ is close at hand ready to help - only a prayer away.
But in more practical terms, you should reach out to someone you trust and share what is keeping you isolated. Often, it is a concern, or worry, which we feel we cannot possibly share with anyone else. But it need not be so. There's always someone able to help. A priest or pastor perhaps, a medic, a counsellor, a professional, organisations like St Vincent or The Salvation Army, or a friend.
Reach out ... and do not suffer alone.
As for the rest of us ... we too should be aware of the loneliness around us and reach out a friendly hand or smile to help.
Be Jesus to someone.