The Value of Community in Christian Spirituality

As discussed in class, being in a community gives us the correction that our limited human capacities humbly needs. In a way, a community gives us the opportunity to grow in breadth and depth in our understanding and meaning-finding of our faith. However, this is not all that a community provides.

Aside from providing a regular dose of corrections, a community shows us the reality that we are inevitably accountable to other people. Think of a sibling relationship: whether you like them or not, you are accountable to the kind of people they become and the kind of circumstances they find themselves in. A community shatters our illusions that all people are easy to relate and deal with, that our life is meant to ve easy and comfortable. A community, just like siblings, will test our patience and beg for our compassion. However, despite the inescapable challenges of having a sibling, you learn how to be more loving, more patient and, more understanding; more than the person you are had you not had any siblings at all. A sibling is forever: bone of your bone, nourished by the same umbilical cord, housed in the same home. What you share is unbreakable. This goes the same with a community (in this case, the Church).

A community (a Church) provides us the same painful reality that we are also accountable to the kind of community it becomes. Their close-mindedness, for example, is also our failure to persuade or our unwillingness to broaden ours. If we truly are looking for God, why should we leave them behind? If we don’t like our sibling, rather than hating them, the more mature way of handling things is to suggest corrections. If you really care about him or her, you won’t let him/her go astray.

In the end, as we will discuss in the next units, the Church is the Sacrament of Christ—it’s the fullest symbol of Christ’s presence. To relate with the Church, then, is to concretely relate with Jesus, who is God afterall. If you find yourself having a difficult time dealing with the Church’s imperfection, that’s insight in itself into how it might be like for God to be dealing with each and everyone of us. To relate with others (the Church), then, is to get to know more how God relates with us and how He has to deal with our petty problems and imperfections.

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