We shouldn’t seek the ideal community. It is a question of loving those whom God has set beside us today. They are signs from God. We might have chosen different people, people who were more cheerful or intelligent. But these are the ones God has given us, the ones He has chosen for us. It is with them that we are called to create unity and live in covenant.
It is difficult to make people understand that the ideal community doesn’t exist and that the equilibrium and harmony they imagine possible are things that come only after years of struggle, and that even then come only as flashes of grace and peace.
– Jean Vanier
[these words from Jean Vanier were not particularly addressed to the advent season, but they seemed very relevant to me]
Do we understand God’s vision for humanity or are we just closed up in our own little worlds? Can peace come? Is there hope for Kosovo, Israel, Palestine, Iraq or Northern Ireland? Is there hope in this world where the gap between the rich and the poor is growing daily? Is there hope? Yes, there is hope! There is hope because God is. God is! And though there is the silence of God, there is also the mystery of God working in the hearts of people doing beautiful things. They don’t hit the headlines. The headlines are frequently things of pain – catastrophes, death. We don’t see all the peace-loving people breaking down the barriers to work together and to love each other. All of us can understand the reaction of Peter. Maybe if we found Jesus kneeling at our feet we would react in the same way. We want a big God who fixes our problems. We don’t want a little God saying, ‘I need you and I’ll come and live in you. I’ll give you a new strength, a new spirit and you shall work so people become free and loving and peace-making: We always want a God who is going to fix our problems, but God is saying, ‘I’ll give you the strength so you become one of those who work with others to bring peace to our world.’
– Jean Vanier, Encountering ‘the Other’
Patience, like forgiveness, is at the heart of community life–patience with ourselves, with the laws of our own growth and with others.
– Jean Vanier