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fr From Community life
to Eucharist

Fr. Efren Limpo Lo, CMF

“Christian existence cannot be realized without or outside a community.” – Schnakenberg

Community life means to belong. In the heart of every man’s life is the inherent yearning to belong, to be in communion with others. Young people of today yearn for experience of communion. This explains the great emergence of fraternities, sororities, gangs, and clubs among many. Through the passing of seasons, and the changing circumstances of our formative journey, often we find ourselves among those
who do not only desire for communion but also struggle to achieve it, taste it and live in it.
In the seminary, we often painfully stumble on the difficulty of relating and being one with persons whom we did not even choose. We are made to believe that they are gifts, not least, blessings from God, but our collective experience tells us that sometimes, they are our curse. The idiosyncrasies of our brothers
are at times way “beyond us”, beyond our comprehension, and if you may, beyond love. We find it hard to accept some persons who do not suit our sensibilities, neither share our lofty aspirations nor sing the sweet and bitter songs of our life. They are persons with whom we have difficulty feeling that warmth
which emanates from real fraternal love, real friendship, and real brotherhood. We make an effort to extend ourselves, our capacity to love and our patience, but to no avail. Still, conflicts are inevitable and
our own human frailties embitter our living together. They cause us pain more than joy, nightmare more than pleasant dreams. Embraces become cold, apathetic and eerie, what used to be pretty and colorful becomes dreadful and gray. We find no soothing melody amid a stark broken orchestra. Our community has become an inescapable Hades in our pursuit towards that sunny and pearly Olympian dwelling.
How we struggle to walk humbly with brothers who have hurt us is an enduring herculean challenge. Along the journey, we try varied means to live in a peaceful, joyful, worth-celebrating relationship
with them because we believe that it isGod who gave them to us. While communion is a gift, it is also a task. It is a responsibility which we must assume with utmost care coupled with God’s abiding grace. Our personal efforts and God’s mercy are two indispensable elements that will help us hurdle our difficulties of relating, of living with others, especially because each one is unique, with his own taste and temperament. True enough, while we marvel at the beauty of our inimitable human singularity, we should
also be in awe at our differences. We have to believe that we can paint rainbows regardless of our particular color.
Looking at the disciples of Jesus, we will, beyond a shadow of a doubt, notice that they are distinct from each other. The heterogeneity of the twelve was intentionally done by Jesus in order to signify his desire of bringing people with no distinction. Thus, we who follow Jesus “in community” must live and act as signs of perpetuity of our Lord’s purpose to the world, notwithstanding our differences. Often our weakness marks our difference, our distinctiveness. However, precisely through our weakness, God reveals his message of love and communion. Our coming together, our communion therefore carries with it a fundamental function, that is, to serve as a witness of God’s intimate desire of friendship and love for people. It is by your love that all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another (Jn. 13:35). Community life then, is an essential part of the “formation” of those who want to follow Jesus by bringing into fulfillment the mission through witness of communion.
A concrete way to do this is manifested in our daily Eucharistic meal. Each coming to the table of the Lord is an experience of communion. By the simple act of sitting around Jesus’ table, we express our desire for each other, for mutual nourishment. In the Eucharist, (the holy banquet table) we receive sustenance for our fraternal life. The Eucharist draws us together to community where we encounter
each other with our needs for forgiveness, understanding, affirmation, acceptance, love, and friendship. We can make our community life truly “Eucharistic” if we make alive the intimacy that dwell between Jesus and the community of disciples through our fervent disposition to come together, to love and to accept one another. We must show such disposition by experiencing the gift of one another, listening to his many stories, reflections, day’s events, realizations, frustrations, desolations and how these speak
to us in our faith life. There, our heart vibrates with life, enflamed by the fire of Christ’s love. We are filled with so much love that we are summoned to share it. Jesus has to leave the table and so are we. We who receive and experience the gift of fraternal communion are sent by Jesus to the whole world. Our mission is to draw people back to the Father’s table, the great Eucharistic table. The challenge
of community life is to risk together; disarming our individuals hearts and widening it to welcome the world.