Thursday, June 4, 2015

Community Life

Living with persons with the same values is a great joy, and we seek their company. However, even in this situation we experience hurt feelings often over trifles. This happens even in the family. Living with others is not easy. So begins the first paragraph of an article by an author writing in With Bible, who introduces himself as a person who studied for 25 years, taught for 25 and now reads and writes.

Catholics look upon those in the religious life, and admire and often envy them. Because of this magnanimous evaluation and expectation, laity 
are hurt by their foibles and get upset. However, very likely, religious who live in community probably are faced with more hurts with their encounters because of their desire to live a holy life.They don't have the freedom of lay people to avoid those with whom they have problems.

In the community of the Church we have conflict and  anguish. It may only be a small hurt but it greatly upsets us and criticism makes us angry. When it gets to a point where we are all knotted up insides, it is not infrequent that many leave the church. At these times he goes back to the disciples of Jesus and learns a lesson from their response to conflict.

Life of Jesus' disciples was weary.The writer sees their life as harsh and cold. The death of Jesus left them completely shocked, and with great mental pain. With the news of Jesus' resurrection peace and a feeling of victory came to them, but Thomas was  not impressed and told the disciples he needed to see the holes in Jesus' hands and side. The writer has a  special  interest in Thomas who threw cold water on what the disciples believed, and told them he would have to see the holes in Jesus' hands and side. On his part he would have been strongly opposed to Thomas and been tough on him, but the disciple had no problem with him and even tried to protect him. 

Disciples did not criticize or blame Thomas, and the reason, he says, was the joy they had with seeing Jesus again. The joy of the resurrection was so great that it overcame everything else. The betrayal of Peter and the weaknesses of the disciples helped to make for a strong community of love and understanding.

When we fail to distinguish between criticism and blame we give and receive scars. In the Church community we can feel these scars  easily.When we take a person's  small faults and make much of them  and blame, we are pushing the person out from the community. In a community we try to learn to accept each other to work for unity and wait.  Without this understanding we are only a make-believe community. The first community waited for Thomas to change we also in our communities need to wait and be patient. Is this not the  way we will grow in faith and wisdom. 

Of course their is always the question of how much deviance is allowed in community. Ideally we would hope that the belief we have of the presence of the Holy Spirit and the teachings left us by our Lord would be sufficient to keep us together as community and to instruct us when we have crossed the line. Should not this be the hope we have living in a community?