Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 3, 2003
OK, it's time to go to the meeting
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
God speaks deeply to those who pray deeply.
We see Jesus do exactly that. Mark's Gospel tells us that when his ministry was most intense, when it was "too busy even to eat," Jesus pulled away, to be alone for awhile. There are times that call for withdrawal and silence.
However, where Christianity and Judaism differ somewhat from some other world religions, is in our belief that there is an equally privileged experience of God that can be had only in a group, in community, in family, at a meeting. We don't just meet God in the desert or in the deep quiet parts of our souls. We meet God there, surely, but we also meet God in the group, the community, the family, at the church gathering, at the meeting: "For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them!" In Christian and Jewish spirituality there are two non-negotiable places where we meet God, alone and in the family. These are not in opposition, but complementary, relying on each other to keep our experience of God deep and pure.
Pentecost, it is important to note, happened to a group at a meeting, not to an individual alone in the desert. That can be helpful to keep in mind when we tire of meetings, despair of their effectiveness, or resent that they pull us away from important private endeavours. The fact that Pentecost happened at a meeting can also be helpful in keeping us focused on why we are going to all these meetings in the first place.
Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day's initial mentor, used to say: "When you don't know what else to do, keep going to meetings!" Sound advice! Meetings are the "upper room," the place where we wait for Pentecost. And what are we waiting for? Why are we in the upper room, at a meeting? Because we are waiting there, with others, for God to do something in us and through us that we can't do all by ourselves, namely, create community with each other and bring justice, love, peace, and joy to our world.
And so we need to continue to go to meetings. We need to spend time together waiting for God, waiting for a new outflow of heavenly fire that will give us the courage, language and power we need to make happen in the world what our faith and love envision.
See you at the meeting!
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