This month as we began to come together in new parishes, the Franciscan writer, Fr. Richard Rohr in his “Daily Meditations” online began a series of reflections on the early Christian Church. As he reflected, he noted some significant aspects of the earliest Christian communities.
Christians were called to live always in relationship – to God and to one another. Christian faith is essentially a community faith. It is not focused on us as individuals. Rather, as the Trinity expresses the loving relationship that is our God, so we as God’s People are called to live and honour our lives in loving relationship with one another. We are a faith of communities.
These Christians were also marked by their inclusivity. As they shared their resources and energies with one another, they also opened themselves to welcome all others. There are no barriers or limits to God’s love. So there could be no exclusions from the love and compassion of these communities of Christians.
The revitalization that is the goal or our new parishes is really a call to reach back to our roots, to our early ancestors in the faith. We seek to create faith communities that are open and inclusive, ready to share what we have with all of God’s People. There is no place for self-centered protection of “what we own or have.” There can only be a generosity of spirit in which we pour out our time, talent and resources for others.
Some 1800 years ago, at a time when Christians were being persecuted Tertullian, a third century Christian lawyer and writer living in a North African community, made the case for Christianity. He commented that someone who was not a Christian would look at how they lived and could well say: “See how they love one another… and how they are ready to die for each other.”
Our ancestors in the faith created communities of believers who were ready to live as disciples of Jesus. Like him, they strove to reflect the open and healing love of God. It is a love that is life-giving to others. It is also a love that opens the doors of the community to all, without exception. This is truly Good News and these communities sought to share it with everyone, not just in words, but more in action. This is what we mean by evangelization. Our new parishes are being called to become open and inclusive communities, ready to share our lives, time, talent and resources with one another and beyond.
May the Spirit of God be poured into our hearts that we may grow into communities of
disciples, marked by generous, self-giving love, truly a People of God.