Of community and what it truly means

I am glad that Father Brian called us together this morning to ponder the definition of community and question ourselves if we were, in the Christian sense of the word, a community. He told us he had gathered from hearsay that we were not as active as the other communities and that on special occasions like the adoration on Holy Hour, our members were sparse among the crowd. It worried him; led him into a thinking that we, having dissolved our core leadership, had lost all sense of direction, and that without a linchpin, we were loose linen with no collective endeavor. In fact, I think it quite frightened him, since there had been before, a community that allowed the social supplant the spiritual and thence had no reason left to continue in it. So, finally, he implored us to rethink our goals, to make the fertile the grounds for spiritual growth rather than just loll about in the soil.

For moment I had felt his words unjust. I have not been to a single sharing session where I was not reminded of the faith, of how God reaches into the lives of all, of good people around me whom by their actions inspire and are made true exemplars of the Christian life, of the struggles that our friends might be facing in deep silence, and of our individual responsibility to the community to keep ourselves from straying. Each time, I learnt something about myself, about others, about the faith, and if these all are not a form of growth, then my thinking must surely be ill-shaped.

But this is exactly parasitic problem. In our contentment, we believe in the righteousness of our every action. I was content being a part of a community and having people with whom I could share my beliefs, my joys, my experiences and my troubles. And though, admittedly, I did grow more through solitary introspection than through the knowledge shared in the community, I never afforded this tendency much attention. Community, for me, had served, and still does, more to remind than to teach. And I, in my contentment, saw no wrong in any of it.

Yet, the more I thought about it, about our sharing sessions and the regular Sunday ones, I could not help but to notice that indeed there was a hint of sloppiness. Though we may share and marvel at God’s intertwining with our lives, and pray as one in ardor and gratitude, there is this faint sense that our community is remains stagnated at a spiritual ground on which we have all comfortably settled. For the reason that it is faint, I fail to see, beyond the mist, the summit of spirituality that ideally we should hope to reach.

Perhaps, as some have mentioned, we ought to start by first reviving our leadership; for just as a society without a government will have “no navigation, no instruments of moving and removing things as require much force“, so it is that a community without a leader will have no collective spiritual direction nor impulse to move forward. Others have also suggested that we make a greater effort to understand one another, to listen more closely to the fluctuations of another’s heart and give support whenever needed, and to conquer, in our closeness, the impeding indolence set heftily upon us by life outside of our faith.

Christmas

I have never quite known how to ‘love’ Jesus.

Indeed, Jesus had died willingly for us, and by his death absolved us sinful beings. And I can think of no more exemplary a form of love than to suffer a world of pain in order to spare a loved one that very demise. It would appear awfully blunt and ungrateful of me to then say that for his all sacrifices, I still do not wholly, genuinely love him. Yet, such is the nature of my ignorant self. For though I am confident that his death had alleviated our sufferings, it is a sacrifice distant, diminished by time and dwindled in history’s spiral, and because of that I fail to feel the tendrils of his love. How should anyone be able to profess to be true a love built on knowledge alone rather than on something felt?

But just hours ago, at the dawn of Christmas, while I was at church, it suddenly came upon me that I had been looking to love Jesus from the wrong angle. I had been seeking to love him for his death; that ultimate and timeless sacrifice. And all the while I fail to realize the single most important thing he had brought us – the Catholic faith. Had he never come, we would not have had this beautiful church to call a home and sing praises in on the 25th of December. Had he never come, I might not have met all these amazing people. Had he never come, my life would have been barren, like a desert without a spiritual oasis, and I, in my ignorance, would have been content living in that desert; content in never having tasted the emancipating waters of faith.

So I guess I know better now.

PS: Special mention to Madeleine the teacher, Grace Mary the life-scientist and Rachel the dancer for their wonderful cards/notebook. This is my terribly poor attempt at showing gratitude but gratitude nonetheless 🙂