There is a common thread in the readings this weekend, which could appear to be overwhelming. We hear through the mouth of Moses that we should be holy as God is holy. Paul reminds us that we are temples of God and Jesus suggests what seems the impossible, that we be perfect as God is perfect. It is sometimes easy to have difficulty with words like ‘holy’ and ‘perfect’ as they may engender negative memories from experiences of the past, where a spirituality got skewed off on these concepts. This was partly due to a personalizing and individualizing of the faith.
It is helpful to remember that Moses, Paul and Jesus are speaking to a community, not engaging in individual spiritual direction. They are reminding the community of its role, a role that shows forth the holiness and wholeness of God, whom it embodies.
On October 2nd, 2006 a gunman walked into an Amish elementary school in Pennsylvania and shot 10 young girls, leaving 5 dead and 5 seriously injured, before killing himself. The response of the Amish community was forgiveness. This did not decrease their grief and the affect of the murders on their personal and communal lives, but because of their Christian beliefs, forgiveness, they said, was their only option. This has been a most inspiring reaction of how community carries and shows forth the attributes of God.
Jesus entrusted his mission to a community. Founders of religious orders knew the necessity of community to carry the spirit and the mission. Dominic referred to the community as community of the holy preaching, and viewed the community itself as the preaching.
Conventional wisdom tells us that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. The wisdom from God of which Paul speaks supplants conventional wisdom. In this wisdom we understand that the strength of community is in how it carries and the supports the weakest, and each one of us is that weakest at some time or other. When we see that the holiness and wholeness is reflected in the group, it is like seeing deeper than the surface to the completeness of the full reflection.
There is a strong message coming through the readings about our preciousness and sacredness, which we hold and share together in any faith filled community to which we belong. Alone the task is daunting, but when we hold the light together we become the sacred communion which embodies and reflects the wholeness and holiness of God.
Elizabeth Ferguson, OP