by Catherine Doherty.
I was asked a while ago to speak to a group of religious concerning the "Formation of a Community of Love." What I had to say was simple, pertaining to what I consider to be the essence of things.
That essence is summed up in St. Paul’s beautiful hymn to charity in the 13th chapter of I Corinthians. For our community at Madonna House, St. Paul’s description of charity is the essence, the base, the cornerstone of the formation of a community of love, and we feel that nothing matters except to enter into his words and incarnate them in our lives.
We know, too, that even before St. Paul spoke those words, Christ had spoken very clearly about love: By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another as I have loved you (Jn 13:35).
No matter how long or how many times I meditate on that gospel passage, I am overawed by it. God seems to ask the impossible. We who are called his disciples, his followers, are asked to love one another with his heart! How can ordinary person love with the heart of God?
Nevertheless, this kind of love is the essence, the cornerstone, the foundation, the answer to all the questioning, confusion, turmoil and unrest which are presently shaking us bruised reeds.
First, foremost, and last, before we talk about techniques, sensitivity courses, interpersonal relationships and all the rest, we must ask ourselves the following question: Have we begun to love the people in the community God has placed us?
It may be a family, a lay apostolic community, a religious community, the parish, a village, a neighborhood. Have we begun to love the people with whom we live? Have I begun to be concerned, not about myself, but about everyone else?
Unless I do this, everything else will be chaff in the wind.
—Adapted from The Gospel Without Compromise, 1989, p. 65, out of print.
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