Honing the sense of communion
A friend of mine once told me that he was a bit sad because his 4 children and the grandchildren are slowly moving out of his house to settle down in other places. Of course, he knew that he had to expect this to happen, but he could not avoid feeling sad at seeing his house becoming an empty nest. “We are now just my wife and I,” he told me.
That was when I had to explain to him, as nicely and calmly as I could, the beautiful doctrine of our faith about the communion of saints that takes place in our lives.
I told him that we can never be separated as long as we live with God who in his wisdom and power unites us always whatever our conditions and circumstances may be. No, not distance, not even death can separate us from the others as long as we are with God. We are meant to be together. God created and designed us to be that way.
We actually are one family of God. We form one body with Christ as the head and all of us as members. As the Catechism teaches us, “Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others.” (CCC 947) And since Christ is the head of that body, everything in him is communicated to us, especially through the sacraments.
This truth of our faith is very useful because it can strongly motivate us to do good always, because whatever good we do, no matter how little, will always redound to the good of others. It will also serve to deter us from doing evil, for the same reason: that whatever evil we do, no matter how little, will also badly affect the others.
All our deeds, no matter how hidden, will always have effects on everybody else, precisely because we are one body, organically united to one another, so to speak. On this point, St. Paul said: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Cor 12,26-27)
Even the Hindus and the Buddhists have something similar to this truth of our Christian faith. It is called “karma,” which in their beliefs “is the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.”
This is so because we have been created in God’s image and likeness, and as such are endowed with the intelligence and will that would enable us to enter into an abiding relationship with everybody else. Our intelligence and will are spiritual faculties that can transcend the limitations of space and time. They enable us to connect with others no matter how distant they are or even if the others are already in the afterlife.
Of course, that is the ideal, though in practice we often fall short of it due to our limitations, let alone, our sins that tend to cut us off from God and from the others. But we can always try and try again to pursue that ideal, enlivening our faith and purifying ourselves after our every fall. Where we are limited by our own powers, God always gives us the grace that enables us to do what is impossible for us to do.
Let’s remember that we are living stones built into a spiritual house with Christ as the cornerstone. As such, who Christ is and how he is, is also who we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to be. We share the very life of Christ. We are supposed to be ‘alter Christus,’ ‘ipse Christus.’
Let’s help one another in the effort to develop this sense of communion among ourselves, especially during these times.