Image: Mission church of Our Lady of Good Hope, Fort Good Hope
Our first reading today begins with a most optimistic observation. We read, “The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul”. This is a description of the early Church, as followers of Christ came together in small communities to support one another and to support the mission of sharing the Gospel, the Good News, of their new-found faith. This observation of the community is very complimentary and it goes on to say some other very nice things about the early Christians and their love and care for one another. But there is one thing that is doesn’t say and that is, that they were of one mind.
There is a very important distinction between being of one heart and of one mind. Though the early Christians, and we ourselves, are motivated by our love of God and the teaching of Jesus, we don’t give up our individuality. We do not come to the Christian community like perfect cookies cut out of a sheet of dough. We bring everything we are to the table including; our strengths and our weaknesses, our hopes and our fears, our faith and our doubts.
It might be simpler if we could erase from ourselves those nagging characteristics that seem to clash with what we believe and especially if we could erase those things in others that grate up against our sensitivities. Yet, despite those seemingly incompatible traits, or maybe even because of them, God has called us, he knows us, and we are precious in his eyes. On top of that God has called us to be in community with one another.
Perhaps God is telling us that we are better together, that what is lacking in me might be able to be found in you and where you are weak, there I can be strong. In this we find the idea that the many members of the Church, though they are individuals, become the parts of one body, the body of Christ. In faith we are connected to one another and whatever happens to one part of the body has an effect on all of us.
At times this mystical body might look like a toddler learning how to walk. At times it lurches forward in great strides, with a big smile across its face. At other times it might fall flat on its backside in a way that make us want to cry. But as we grow together we learn how to live in a way that makes us better than who we are alone. Done well, Christian community helps us to cope with life, especially the hard parts, better than we ever could by ourselves.
Yesterday we began to learn the news coming out of the province of Nova Scotia, how a seemingly ordinary man took the the lives of so many people and left so many others shocked and grieving. While we cannot explain how such an act could be committed by one human against another our faith does tell us how, as a Christian community, we can respond even though we are far away. We do so by reaching out with our prayers for those who are suffering. We pray for the wounded body of Christ of which we are part. As we hear the stories unfold over the next days take a moment and raise up all those who are suffering and ask God to hold them and to bless them.