Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Community Life

There are different types of communities.
There is the commnity of the family, man and woman united in marriage. Jesus creates a covernant between them. The heart of the man is given to his wife, the heart of the woman is given to her husband. This union is a sacrament, a place where God is truly present. Through the sacrament of marriage, through the promise of God and the love that flows from Him, a man and a woman can continue to love each other until the end of their lives. They are a sign of the love of the Holy Spirit.
This covernant between man and woman in marriage is fruitful. Their fecundity is also a sign of the Holy Spirit. Living as husband and wife, they give life, they communicate love and hope. As parents they are called to serve their children, to help them grow, become free, loving and faithful. Jesus gives to parents a love that is not possessive but liberating, life-giving.
Family life in not always easy. A man can flee relationship in work and distractions. He can become difficult with his wife and children, no longer communicating with them. He becomes less attentive, less loving. A woman can become aggressive. She too can flee relationship in work and can lose a sense of service and love. Thus a wall is built up between them. They need the grace of the Holy Spirit and hearts that are continually being renewed so that their love can deepen and that their union be founded on welcoming and in forgiveness 70x7 times!

Jesus calls some people to live a covenant between them in community life. They belong to one another. They are a sign of God's tenderness and faithfulness. Some are called to live celibacy. They receive this as a gift from Jesus which is a source of life for others.
Jesus invites us to live community. It is a place of healing where people can grow in covenant, commitment to others and openness to the world. There are communities where people live together. There are others where people come together regularly for times of prayers, sharing and service to others.

Community life is not always easy. In the community, there are some people I really like! We have the same sensitivity and see things the same way. We are a source of life and strength for each other. But there are others I just can't stand! We never agree but get on each other's nerves. There is a block between us. We need Jesus and the gift of His Holy Spirit in order to be able to accept and love each person in the way Jesus loves him or her.
Each community, like the Church, is a body. In this body, the weaker, more suffering, more broken ones have a very special place. Jesus continually invites me to serve, especially the poorest, the lowliest, the lonely. In the community, some are called to be like Martha, others like Mary. Martha works hard; she serve Jesus. Mary sits at His feet, listens to Him. Jesus loves both Martha and Mary; both are important. Martha should not get upset with Mary or judge her. They need each other.

Every community is based on trust, trust that it is Jesus who calls us together; trust in one another, that we are all brothers and sisters, that each one has a place and can grow. Yes, Jesus is alive today. I recognise Him in the community of brothers and sisters, in the covenant that binds us together. Communities founded on the love of Jesus open their doors wide to receive the poor and the lonely. Jesus teaches us to give with confidence.
Some people live on prayer. You find them in monasteries but also in prisons and hospitals. Sometimes they are bedridden or in wheelchair, or sometimes they are old, sick and lonely. They have time. All day long, they remain close to the heart of Jesus in prayer and love. They remain quietly there, offering all the pain, violence and injustice of our world. They are like Mary, interceding for the world. Their fecundity is tremendous! They are like hidden springs which irrigate the earth.

Community life need forgiveness. Forgiveness is one the greatest gifts of the Father to humanity. So quickly I can hurt another person: I do not allow him or her to be different. I do not really listen, I just close myself up in my own needs and problems. To forgive means to break down the barrier which separate people. To forgive means to be an instrument of peace. To forgive means to rediscover the covenant that binds us together.
There is such guilt in our hearts. We need forgiveness and a concrete sign of God'd forgiveness. Jesus sends us His priests who tells us: "I forgive you, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit". Jesus invites me to forgive as He forgives. He invites me to become a man or woman of forgiveness. To forgive is to welcome and carry the weakness of another. It is to recognise the covenant that binds us. It is to have a heart full of kindness and compassion. It is to pray for those who reject, persecute and torture.

Celebration is at the heart of community. To celebrate means to give thanks, to express our joy and our trust, because Jesus has freed us from our prison of loneliness. He has come to be with us. He gives us to each other; He creates a covenant between us. We will never again be alone. We belong to a people that is united and loved.
Each meal is meant to be a celebration, a celebration of our covenant. There are special meals on feast days. Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a wedding feast! Each encounter with another person can be a celebration. We open up our hearts to each other. We live a communion of love with one another. There is a presence of God, a presence of the Holy Trinity.
Jesus invites us to pray in the silence of our hearts. Prayer is an encounter with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is the most beautiful of all encounters; it is truly a celebration.

If we are people who pray, if our communities are living, loving close to the poor, we will be witnesses of Jesus in society and at work. We will help break down the barrier that separate countries, peoples, classes. We will become real instruments of peace and reconciliation. We will work toward a better world where all men, women and children, even the smallest and the most helpless, can live their human dignity as children of God in a loving community.
There is hope!

 (I walk with Jesus, Jean Vanier)

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