If I think back to my girlhood at school, those of us who were boarders were tight like a family. If any of us got too big for our boots, there would soon be an "intervention". Boarding school has tough love aplenty.
It was love that brought about that intervention, as humiliating as it could be within the safety of our little whanau. The members of our small community, some of whom didn’t see their families for months on end, depended on each other. Behaving well towards each other was essential to not only our individual wellbeing, but also the wellbeing of us as a body. Even we understood this, as entitled young women living in a freezing, dilapidated mansion in the back end of the English countryside.
We had to successfully coordinate with each other to enjoy midnight feasts, sneak out of our dorms at night without being caught, and generally drive matron mad. This meant getting along, compromising, and negotiating behaviour, even with individuals we didn’t really like. I’m not sure if any of us realised we were being Christian, but we loved each other very much and are friends to this day, despite being scattered around the globe.
The alternative to community is solitude, which is okay, but only for a while. We are not made to walk alone, as loneliness is one of our cruellest afflictions. We only ever learn those lessons needed to become better people when we are in relationship with others.
We have entered the Ecumenical Season of Creation, where various Christian denominations, including the Catholic Church, are praying together for peace and justice regarding the Earth. Children and Churches see the merit of working as one, and Jesus confirms his presense within a community in the Gospel:
"Amen I say to you again, if two of you on earth agree on any matter, whatever you ask, it will be granted to you by my Father in Heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I am there among them." Matthew 18:19-20
Part of being a Christian is being part of a community. Jesus’ followers walked with him as a group and so must we. This is why it is vitally important to put the needs of the common good before our own. People can’t just do whatever they want; sometimes we have to adjust our behaviour or face some appropriate consequences.
If we look at family life, it is the same deal, and it is hard to achieve the right balance as a parent. I have grounded my daughters, taken devices, and told them off with gusto, all for their own good. Likewise, when I behave badly (yes, hard to believe, I know) my clever teenagers are the first to pick me up on it. I enjoy it when this happens, because it means I’m succeeding in my goal to make them better humans than I am.
Getting the best out of his children was Jesus' goal, too.
Today's Readings: Ezekiel 33:7-9 Psalm 94 Romans 13:8-10 Matthew 18:15-20
Source: Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary TimeThis Sunday