The tools to live in community


The tools to live in community

The readings this Sunday give me such comfort. Comfort in knowing that there have always been disagreements in Christian communities and comfort in knowing that Jesus left us with the tools to work through them.

In the reading from Acts, we hear that there are different understandings about how to be faithful to God. The important thing is that it is about being faithful to God. If that is the starting point in our community, I believe we can accomplish the will of God. Yet, people are still divided about how to discern that will. And so, we have rules. Often this can be seen as a way to control, and I have struggled with this myself. However, a recent situation made it much more clear for me. At the beginning of Covid, we had strict rules about how to deal with symptoms and being a close contact. Everyone knew what was expected of them for the sake of the community. We may not have been happy with all the rules, but the expectations were clear. Now, we find ourselves in a very different situation. Should we test before we go to a function? What if we have been in close contact but have no symptoms. Is it just a head cold we have as we are testing negative? Is it ok to get on the plane to travel? We are now in position to discern for ourselves whether there will be implications. This is a moral dilemma. So, while we have less rules, we have less freedom in not knowing how the decisions we make may have an impact on the community. So, the rules help us to know how to live in community, without worrying about making the wrong decision.

However, at the same time, we must discern those rules as a group. Therefore, community is so important. Jesus made sure that we would have the Holy Spirit to help guide us. However, anyone of us could feel we are hearing from the Holy Spirit; community is how the group comes together to discern. Just like the Synodal process we are currently engaged in with the Catholic Church.

Jesus left us with the Holy Spirit to help us through these times. Jesus understands that it will be hard to live in the radical way which he has taught, and He knows there will be struggles. However, he does not abandon us. He leaves us peace, if only we can accept it. Jesus has given us everything we need to be happy in this life, yet we need to give ourselves over to His way to find it. He says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you……Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14.27) We only need to trust that Jesus has given us the tools we need to discern as a community, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

By Serena Shaw
Vocation Team – Oblate Associate