The Parish as Christian Community

“And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”  (Ephesians 4:11-12)

Christ chose 12 men to form a special community – his first disciples.  His Gospel commandments frequently deal with how His followers were to live with and for one another.  For us to continue to be His Body, which is one image St. Paul uses to describe Christian life and community, we have to learn how to live with one another.  St. Makarios of Egypt writes:

“Simplicity before others, guilelessness, mutual love, joy and humility of every kind, must be laid down as the foundation of the community. Otherwise, disparaging others or grumbling about them, we make our labor profitless. He who persists ceaselessly in prayer must not disparage the man incapable of doing this, nor must the man who devotes himself to serving the needs of the community complain about those who are dedicated to prayer. For if both the prayers and the service are offered in a spirit of simplicity and love for others, the superabundance of those dedicated to prayer will make up for the insufficiency of those who serve, and vice versa.

In this way the equality that St. Paul commends is maintained (cf. 2 Cor. 8:14): he who has  much does not have to excess and he who has little has no lack (cf. Exod. 16:18). God’s will is done on earth as in heaven when, in the way indicated, we do not disparage one another, and when not only are we without jealousy but we are united one to another in simplicity and in mutual love, peace and joy, and regard our brother’s progress as our own and his failure as our loss.” (The Philokalia, Vol. 3, p 295)

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