I have been living in a community for three years now, and sometimes I just wonder what the use of such a life is when in my role as a diocesan priest I would probably be living on my own. Do I get anything out of this? Sometimes we work hard and try to create an environment where people are able to live together, where they are able to hold good relationships, but really, is it worth anything? What is the use of it all? Can’t we just all live our own separate lives and grow in whatever way we want to be? I can apply these questions to various situations, be it for me as a seminarian, a student at university, a team in an office, or for a family member at home.
Then at moments I just realise the beauty of living in a community, where one shares special occasions, difficult situations, a fun activity or a stressful event, or maybe just an ordinary day. In these instances one lives the beauty that different characters express, and indeed such personalities do complement each other. We are born in a society, we grow in societies and thus it seems that we are made to be in societies. I guess what living in a community offers is the fact that we can grow together, learn from and teach each other, and so this gives us the opportunity to mould ourselves as individuals who are able to reach a better understanding of themselves. We all share in this experience called life.
Christ, who is God who became human, was born in a community, was brought up in a community and chose to live in a community while in his ministry – living with the apostles and the other disciples. Surely God could have chosen to do all this on his own! But rather He chose to live as such, not only for the continuation of what was to be His Church, but also for the growth of the apostles and of himself as a human being. Christ is the model, not only for us as Christians, but also for all humanity. In God becoming man we witness how we can live as God’s image. In living in a community, we see that it is intrinsically human to grow together. Thus, arguments stating that we should bud out of each other’s lives and leave everyone to do whatever he or she wants do not really hold. Indifference should not be an option. Living in a society entails the sharing of knowledge on humanity. I will not use the phrase ‘no man is an island’ (see what I did there?) but rather I’ll just say that we do need each other in order to get a better sense of the world and of our lives. The knowledge of society as a whole as well as the responsibility we feel in order to improve humanity, gear us to gain a higher awareness of the truth, a higher awareness of what reality is and how we should relate to it and live it.