Build a caring environment that celebrates success and accepts failures
There is an interesting point in today’s Gospel for you to reflect on. “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”
Scripture commentaries point out that when Christ told his disciples they will do greater works than him, it signified what I would call the evolution of Christ’s work and mission.
The healing work of Christ has seen “greater works” over the last two millennia in the progress and breakthroughs in medical science as well as alternative medicine. Whereas Christ preached in the geographical boundaries of Palestine, his message has been preached to the far corners of the world by the church.
One of the discussions we had in theology class when we were seminarians was on the question: Can we hasten the second coming of Christ?
I think this is a critical question that we must revisit, given the rise of evil all over the world: the Syrian conflict and refugee crisis; the tensions in the Korean peninsula; the repeated terrorist attacks all over the world; the growing inequality spurred by unprecedented wealth creation in a system that does not allow egalitarian distribution; the clear and present danger of climate change evidenced by natural calamities increasing in number and intensity. The list can go on and on.
A few months ago, someone shared a point raised by a priest, one of the official exorcists of the church. He said that we must really pray more as the evil spirits and forces are gaining ground all over the world.
Without a doubt, we do face a crisis on a global, societal level and on a personal level. As in all encounters with crisis, we can either disintegrate or integrate deeper and come closer to our core. Crises can either crush us or define our character, and cast us among the stars.
These are the points to ponder this Sunday: one, pray more; and two, form and build communities. Both movements are to be rooted and grounded in an interior movement to return to our core identity and mission.
Our core identity and mission is Christ, making him the center of our life and living our life and mission “through him, with him and in him.”
In 1988, Jean Vanier delivered two lectures at Harvard Divinity School. One of them was “Community: A Place of Bonding, Caring and Mission.” Vanier is the founder of L’Arche (The Ark) Movement, which brings together persons with mental disabilities to live in an environment of love and family.
Community as a place of bonding, caring and mission, community as sacred space, invites us to consider creating this in our families, in our work places and in organizations and clubs we belong to.
Bonding, a common dream, goal or vision, must bring us together. We must carry conversations that will help us surface these shared dream, goal or vision.
Caring is the environment that must characterize community. Caring first welcomes the members of the community, giving all the security that there is a place or space where they can always go home to and feel welcome and secure.
Beyond this, the caring environment also provides opportunities for the members of the community to excel, to be the best of who they can be with the special opportunity to dare to risk and get out of one’s comfort zone without the paralyzing fear of failure. A caring environment celebrates success and accepts failures to allow all learning and growth.
Mission is the fruit of community. In community, the members discover God’s will and plan for each of them. The community, in the same way that it welcomes its members, sends them out to make the larger community better.
They are Eucharistic communities where our deepest bond comes from Christ—“Do this in remembrance of me”—
or is Christ; communities where we can “take” our lives to reintegrate, and as we experience the grace of healing and being whole again, we “give thanks.” We “bless” God.
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