Abbot Phillip: ‘It is a Struggle to Live in Community’

“Each of us has a path to faith is his or her life. Faith is a truly personal gift and the choice to accept faith as a gift is also very personal. These first Christians seem to have evangelized by the way the lived together. The reading from the Acts of the Apostlest seems to paint such a wonderful picture of the harmony of the early Christian community.  We know, however, from the Acts itself and from the letters of Saint Paul that life was not always harmonious.  It was and is a struggle to live in a community completely devoted to Jesus Christ, whether that is a family community, a parish community or a religious community or some other type of community.  It is just not easy to live together.  Yet it is right at the point of conflict in any community that we are invited to put our finger into the wound and to believe.

As we meditate on the death and resurrection of the Lord, it was not something beautiful, but something almost obscene.  It was not glory moving to resurrection but humiliation.  When we meet up with defects and sins and ugliness in community, we are walking the way of the Cross and we must believe that out of the defects, sins and ugliness, God still is forming and bringing about resurrection.

The First Letter of Peter tells us today that in his great mercy God gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the same message as from the Acts of the Apostles. We must learn how to place all that seems broken in the hands of a living and loving God, and believe that God is making beauty, goodness and love from it.  As we begin to believe, we not only soften, we come to be like Saint Thomas the Apostle: just a little embarrassed because we had doubted so much.

Let us pray today that we can resolutely look at all that seems sinful, ugly, not of God, destructive and so on—and yet embrace it all as part of God’s creation and know that in our faith, God is transforming us and our world.  Let us believe in resurrection because Christ is truly risen.”–Abbot Phillip, OSB (Christ in the Desert Monastery)

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