The following reflection is by Tom Cahill
Social isolation can damage your health as much as smoking can. According to new research it can be as bad for you as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, or daily binge drinking. It's twice as harmful as being obese. Good relationships are crucial for physical and mental health. This is true not just for the elderly as previously thought but for people of all ages. Those with strong bonds to others are 50 per cent less likely to die over a seven-year period, for example, than those lacking quality relationships. One researcher explains that having a sense of meaning in life helps people to take better care of themselves.
Today's Second Reading (2 Thess 3:7-12) agrees. There, Paul says that we need to earn our bread. In other words, we must pull our weight in working with others for the common good. We don't isolate ourselves emotionally or physically from others. We don't become loafers, spongers or gossips. We remain active, and contribute to the common good. In that way, we remain in good shape, in every sense of the word.
It also means looking out for those who because of circumstances may find themselves either in, or slipping into, social isolation. It means being on the watch so that we never lose our sense of meaning, or because of indifference allow another to lose theirs. In that way we revere God's name in those he created and, as the First Reading (Mal 3:19-20) so charmingly puts it, we go out to face life 'leaping like calves from the stall'.