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Why Community Is So Critical Today

Losing the Sense of Being Connected

In the light of broken families and homeless individuals in record numbers in our nation, it is a good time to reflect on the now notorious comment of Margaret Thatcher, PM of England, in October 1987... ”There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” Her complaint was about too much individual reliance on government. What she seemed to ignore totally were groups such as neighbourhoods, churches, clubs and local councils, etc, through which families and individuals thrive and create rich lives.

A Theological Base for Community

One of the images that St Paul used for those who followed Jesus was ‘the body of Christ’. This was etched deeply into him from his conversion experience travelling to Damascus when in a vision Jesus asked Paul why he was persecuting him – by which he meant those who believed in him. (Acts 9.5) This image of the body is the way he explained how the previous barriers between Jews and Greeks, slave and free, men and women had been overturned (cf Gal 3.28, Col 3.11). Out of this vision he explained how Jesus’ death and resurrection had drawn together a new nation that affirmed the dignity and value of each human life anew. The gift of the Holy Spirit poured out on those present at the first Pentecost would also fill them with a new sense of confidence and determination to take this message of unity out to all the world.

A Modern Parallel

Modern ecology affirms how the destiny of all of us on this planet is intertwined. Clear felling of forest in the Himalayan foothills has led to floods in Bangladesh; motor wastes from Europe are turning up in Arctic ice. Comments such as the one by Thatcher have contributed to the rise of the ‘me’ generation, one that ignores our intermeshed destiny as one body. Hopefully the global vision of Christianity can fuel a reassertion of a ‘we-together’ vision in our world.

Catholic Discovery

Reflection , Featured , Environment , Society