Reality Is Communion

Community

Reality Is Communion
Sunday, May 6, 2018

In the beginning God says, “Let us make humanity in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves” (Genesis 1:26). The use of the plural pronoun here seems to be an amazing, deep time intuition of what Christians would later call the Trinity—the revelation of the nature of God as community, as relationship itself, a Mystery of perfect giving and perfect receiving, both within God and outside of God. The Body of Christ is another metaphor for this bonding. “Reality as communion” is the template and pattern for our entire universe, from atoms to galaxies, and certainly in human community.

We come to know who God is through exchanges of mutual knowing and loving. God’s basic method of communicating God’s self is not the “saved” individual, the rightly informed believer, or even a person with a career in ministry, but the journey and bonding process that God initiates in community: in marriages, families, tribes, nations, schools, organizations, and churches who are seeking to participate in God’s love, maybe without even consciously knowing it.

Community seems to be God’s strategy and God’s leaven inside the dough of creation. It is both the medium and the message. It is both the beginning and the goal: “May they all be one . . . so the world may believe it was you who sent me . . . that they may be one as we are one, with me in them and you in me” (see John 17:21, 23).

Thomas Merton wrote, “The Christian is not merely ‘alone with the Alone’ in the Neoplatonic sense, but he is One with all his ‘brothers [and sisters] in Christ.’ His inner self is, in fact, inseparable from Christ and hence it is in a mysterious and unique way inseparable from all the other ‘I’s’ who live in Christ, so that they all form one ‘Mystical Person,’ which is ‘Christ.’” [1]

There is no other form for the Christian life except a common one. Until and unless Christ is experienced as a living relationship between people, the Gospel remains largely an abstraction. Until Christ is passed on personally through faithfulness and forgiveness, through concrete bonds of union, I doubt whether he is passed on by words, sermons, institutions, or ideas.

References:
[1] Thomas Merton, The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation (Harper San Francisco: 2003), 22.

Adapted from Richard Rohr: Essential Teachings on Love, ed. Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Orbis Books: 2018), 65, 102-103.

Image credit: Welcome (detail), Canticle Farm, Oakland California. To learn more about Canticle Farm, visit https://canticlefarmoakland.org/.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: When we took down the fences between our yards, . . . we were also taking down the fences in our hearts. That’s when we really began to know and love our neighbors and make peace with one another.  —Anne Symens-Bucher, Canticle Farm

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