"Yet even now, says the Lord, return to Me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts." —Joel 2:12-13
Because we are all members of Christ's body and therefore need each other (1 Cor 12:12ff), we must not absent ourselves from the assembly (Heb 10:25). Instead, we should "call an assembly; gather the people, notify the congregation; assemble the elders" (Jl 2:15-16). God the Father wants His family together. Jesus prays that we would be one as He and the Father are one (Jn 17:21). The Holy Spirit makes us one body (1 Cor 12:13).
As essential as it is for us to live in Christian community, there is nonetheless a danger in communal life. In Christian community, we are tempted to serve the Lord because everybody else is doing it, to go with the flow of the crowd. However, we must not go along with the crowd but with the Lord. We must serve the Lord because of our personal, interior commitment to Him, regardless of what anyone else is doing.
Would you receive an ashen cross on your forehead today if you were the only one willing to publicly declare yourself a sinner and a penitent? If you were to be mocked or even persecuted for the ashes on your forehead, would you wash them off? Do you stand up for Jesus, even in those situations when you stand alone?
As Christians, we need community. However, Christian community needs to be made up of persons who are individually committed to Jesus. May this Lent be both communal and individual.
Prayer: Father, for love of You, may I stand together when possible and alone when necessary.
Promise: "Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!" —2 Cor 6:2
Praise: When Paul decided to stand up for Christ at work, he found he was not alone. Now two or three gather in Jesus' name (Mt 18:20).
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, August 1, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 6, 1996