Community Reflection: Putting on a New Self
By Katie Mulembe, Catholic Volunteer Network
“Do not lie to one another, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”
Lent is the season of renewal – the time set aside for us to direct our focus inward to see how we are called to grow and turn away from our old ways. Throughout scripture we hear that God calls us to a new life, one that more closely resembles the life Jesus led. In this passage, St. Paul explains that we are called to “put on the new self.” Not only will our outward actions change, but our inner transformation will recreate our entire being. We will become not merely better versions of ourselves, but completely renewed people. Through acts of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience we become more like our Creator.
Community living is one of the best places to practice these actions. The longer we live in community, the more we are able to put our guards down, and this is when we start to get real with one another. Of course, this is a good thing. You cannot build authentic intentional community without an atmosphere of trust and acceptance; however, this also may mean that the politeness that eased your transition to community living may be somewhat lacking. You might find that your patience is beginning to run thin, laziness is setting in, and your words to one another are becoming a little less guarded. Therefore, it also makes sense that community living can become quite a bit more challenging around this time.
During difficult times, it is easy to say “Community living is not for me,” but according to scripture, we are all called to community, and God gives us the gifts we need to do this well. Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche communities, once said “Every human activity can be put at the service of the divine and of love. We should all exercise our gift to build community.”
The message that Paul shared with the Colossians two thousand years ago still rings true for our volunteer communities today. When we personally commit to becoming more Christ-like by letting our actions be guided by compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, we are able to overcome the divisions and challenges that prevent us from authentic community. Although your community living experience may be temporary, it is an opportunity to grow in ways that will stay with you long after your service year is over.
Questions for discussion:
- Considering the five qualities (compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience) which have you grown in most through your community living experience? Which do you struggle with the most?
- How can you, as a community, share compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience with your local community?
For further reflection:
“Be Kind” - Fr. James Martin shares three ways we can be nicer to one another this Lenten season.