Community is at the heart of the Gospel. The Holy Trinity is a community.
We are all drawn into communities as we go through life – temporary and long lived, accidental and intentional. Community is unavoidable. But it is hard.
Community is difficult because people are difficult. We are faced not only with other people’s faults and flaws but with our own as well.
The Holy Trinity shows community at the heart of God.
We need to remember that monasticism incorporates the challenges of community and manifests God’s presence in the world by prayer and action that benefits the world. It is not a withdrawal but an expression of community.
A criticism of online community is that it allows us to do our own thing without being members of a church – i.e. a community. But interacting with others online allows a greater freedom and therefore requires greater trust. Online arguments can feel much sharper and hurtful than offline arguments because it’s much harder to walk away. People feel a freedom to be offensive online.
Communal monasticism isn’t easy. St Benedict devised a Rule for living together which can appear draconian to us. Perhaps it helps to understand his perspective when we remember that the first community he led literally offered him a ‘poisoned chalice’ to get rid of him, so badly had he upset them.
Reconciliation is not a soft option. If we are not practising community then there can be no reconciliation and if we are not living out reconciliation we can’t bring it to the world.