the cross of community
"There is...my anxiety for all the churches." —2 Corinthians 11:28
After Paul gave one of the most extensive lists of sufferings in the Bible, he concluded: "Leaving other sufferings unmentioned, there is that daily tension pressing on me, my anxiety for all the churches" (2 Cor 11:28). Suffering related to the churches, that is, the small Christian communities, is the grand finale of Paul's list of sufferings. Paul was an expert on the sufferings of Christian communities. Not only did he suffer in and with these communities, but before his conversion to Christ, Paul caused some of this suffering when he "entered house after house, dragged men and women out, and threw them into jail" (Acts 8:3). Christian community is a place of suffering. Pope John Paul II has taught that building community "takes place on the way of the Cross; it requires frequent self-denial" (To the Plenary Meeting of The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, Nov 20, 1992).
We may at first be discouraged by the sufferings in Christian community. Near the cross, however, we find an unspeakable joy (see Col 1:24), love supreme (see Jn 15:13), and abundant life (Jn 10:10). At the cross, the waters of Baptism and the blood of the Eucharist flow from the side of Jesus (Jn 19:34) to make us one body. Only by suffering in the pattern of Jesus' death (Phil 3:10) will we be one as Jesus and the Father are one (Jn 17:21). Choose Christian community, redemptive suffering, and life.
Prayer: Father, give me the privilege to suffer (Phil 1:29) for love of You and to unite the body of Christ (see Jn 11:51-52).
Promise: "Make it your practice instead to store up heavenly treasure, which neither moths nor rust corrode nor thieves break in and steal. Remember, where your treasure is, there your heart is also." —Mt 6:20-21
Praise: Jesus enabled Dorothy to accept her baby's death through the support and compassion of her Christian community.
Reference: (For related teaching, order our booklet, Introduction to Small Christian Communities.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, November 28, 1998
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 1, 1998