Some questions recently asked of me; “Why do I need to attend church? Can’t I just pray alone or do good for others? Is there a need to be at church and hear the same thing over and over drifting into monotony?
First allow me to address the reality of what Jesus intended to accomplish by becoming man and how the Incarnation brought about a new understanding of God’s Plan to share His life and Love with mankind. See in some of my reflections the theme found in “The Mystery of the Church” wherein God’s plan was to share His life and love with us (Col. 1: 26).
Jesus could have been an itinerant preacher spreading good news and enticing people for a period of time as He moved about the countryside. But, once His life ended in a cataclysmic ending with only His mother at His Cross, who would there be to spread His message? Hence the need for more than one person to not just listen but to announce to others who in turn would repeat the same scenario for centuries. The most enduring capacity of reaching people is to find listening ears, open their hearts to share a philosophy that is more than just thoughts, but deep and enduring richness of salvation which all of humanity is in dire need of finding what the intention of Jesus’ Ministry is about.
Enter the common practice of teaching which enriches the student eager to learn and eventually reaches out to their followers something imbedded within their minds a practice that won’t die but will grow in time with a desire to enhance others who will share this same message. Community!
From Romans Paul writes; “But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news”. (Rom. 10: 14 - 15).
God, in His Plan to redeem people and share His Divine Beatific Vision with man required one element; a way to spread His Word and make believers of His creatures who would turn away and sin. In order for the plan to become real and active God would need those who were willing to spread the Good News of His Forgiveness. People would need to hear the Good News, but someone would have to speak that Good News to them.
A community of believers is always the ultimate direction of evangelizing. Then they can evangelize others who will be eager to learn and teach as well. There is a difference between committees and communities. Committees are designed to accomplish events that are comprised of people who organize events or functions to enhance their particular purpose. Communities in some way may parallel committees but are more concerned about the whole and not just a portion of society. While committees work with a diligence to advance and promote their own interests, communities look beyond the fringes of the inner circle and attempt to reach the disenfranchised of society and herein lies the basic truth of the Mystery of God’s Plan.
From an excerpt of Merton regarding committees: “There are people dedicated to God whose lives are filled with restlessness and have no real desire to be alone. In practice, their lives are devoured by activities and strangled with attachments. Interior solitude is impossible for them. These people are great promoters of useless work; organizing meetings, printing circulars, writing letters, talking on the telephone for hours in order to gather a hundred people in a large room where they fill the air with smoke, make a great deal of noise, roar at one another, clap their hands and stagger home at last, patting one another on the back with assurance they have all done great things to spread the Kingdom of God”. Of course Merton was speaking of interior solitude but he indicates the prime task of committees may not reach the people who need evangelized. Only through communities will we arrive at the desired goal that God set forth through the Incarnation and the ministry of Jesus.