CHURCH

Created: Wednesday, 30 June 2010 Last Updated: Monday, 31 March 2014

1.     The experience of faith is a communitarian one. If it is shared, the experience of faith creates community: “ The Word of God joins those who listen to it” (Lk 8,21). At the same time, the community is the appropriate way to develop the experience of faith. Nevertheless, how many reach to live their faith in community? Many find out this preoccupying fact: the alarming lack of live communities. Massiveness, individualism and anonymousness are vices opposed to ecclesial community. The community tissue of the church shows up awfully destroyed. In many cases, are we at a dry bones field? (Ez 37); are we living in the confusion of Babel? (Gn 11).

2.     Babel is the Hebrew name of Babylon which is a symbol city in the Bible. Like Jerusalem but in the opposite side. Consciousness grows slowly of a deep experience in action on the earth: Babylon and Jerusalem, front to front, are the two cities shared by men: the city of God and the city of the enemy power of God.

3.     The tale in the Genesis (11,1-9) presents in a simple way the blunder of Babel. It is described like a rebellion presenting the symptoms of the original, radical sin. Babel is the symbol of the human pride, willing to reach the plenitude or the life including heavens, on his own power, leaving out God. This claim, deeply idolatrous, places Babel in a deceitful situation whose consequences will be evident later on.

4.     The pride of some men that build their city without God produces like fruit a mystery of incomprehension, lack of communication and confusion: Come! Let us go down and confuse their language so that they will no linger understand each other (11,7). Babel, that actually means God’s gate, and she paradoxically became a city of confusion, the tangled city.

5.     Scattering is the final result of the process (idolatry, lack of communication, dispersion): From there the Lord scattered them over the whole face of the earth  (11,9). It is the judgment of Babel, the sentence of Babel, the sentence against the city of the wicked. Jerjes´ armies accomplished this sentence about the year 485 b.C. Babylon became a dessert city, abandoned, avoided, the empty city.

6.     Due to her infidelity, Jerusalem also takes part of the mysterious fate of Babel. Since she forgot her mission, Jerusalem listens God’s message or a relief: other peoples will substitute her. Saint Paul is conscious of the accomplishment or Oseas´ prophecy in the gentiles: “I will call my people to those who were not my people, and my beloved to the one who was not beloved. And in the same place where they were told, You are not my people, they will be named Children of the living God (Rom 9,25-26).

7.     Pentecost is the counterpoint of Babel. If  Babel’s mystery is based in the idolatry, that of Pentecost has its roots in the faith: “faith in Christ, dead and resurrected, constituted like Lord of the History” (Acts 2,36). The Resurrected Lord makes himself present in the dynamics of the Spirit. The gift of the Spirit shows the accomplishment of Jesus promise (Jn 14 – 16). Peter says “It is happening what the prophets announced: In those days – says God- I will pour out my Spirit on every mortal. Your sons and daughters will speak through the Holy Spirit; your young men will see visions and your old men will have dreams” (Acts 2, 17-18).

8.     The Spirit always presents himself in action. He is like the wind: “It blows where it pleases and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going” (Jn 3,8). It is like the fire, that burns in the prophets´ preaching: “Then came the prophet Elijah like a fire his words a burning torch” (Sir 48,1). Spirit’s experience, with his signals, is like a strange, unknown language. It is said in the psalm 81: “ They heard a voice they did not know – I relieved your shoulder of the burden; I freed your hands from the basket.” An experience that claims for an answer from the man, “serious in your conversion” (Mt 3,8; Acts 2,38).

9.     If the experience of Babel drives to the lack of communication and confusion (peoples of the same settlement do not understand themselves), the experience of Pentecost drives to the communication and understanding (peoples coming from different parts if the world understand themselves perfectly): “All of us hear them proclaiming in our own language what God, the Savior, does” (Acts 2.11)

10.                       If the experience of Babel  drives to dispersion, the experience of Pentecost drives to congregation, to the communion, to the community. The community coming forth is the Church: “ Some three thousand were added to their number that day. They were faithful to the teaching of the apostles, the common life of sharing, the breaking of the bread and the prayers” (Acts 2,41-42). And also “ The whole community of believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed any or their possessions as his own; but rather they shared all things in common” (4,33).

11.                       In this way is born, revived and renewed the church, that us community: coming back to the cenacle (Acts 1, 13-14 and 2,1), a Pentecost, to the fountains of the communitarian experience of the Acts or the Apostles. In front of the current agglomeration, the individualism and the anonymity, it is necessary to promote the communitarian dimension of the faith, id est, to rebuild the communitarian tissue orf the Church. The II Vatican Council remembers that God wanted to save the men “not individually and isolated among them, but forming a people”. (LG 9). God’s project is collective, communitarian.

12.                        The unity of the church is catholic (universal), as it is said from the II century, to unite human diversities (Acts 10,12 and on), to adopt itself to every culture (1 Co 9,20), to embrace the whole universe (Mt 28,19). It is for sure, that in to days´ church it is required more respect to the legitimate diversity: “May they all be one” (Jn 17,21). Men united in God’s mystery, that is the mystery of the church, a mystery open to our experience, under our reach. As the Lord says: “For where two or three are gathered in may Name, I am there with them” (Mt 18,20).

 

         *         Dialog: How is our communitarian experience of faith?

We are at a dry bones´ field
We live in the confusion of Babel (idolatry, lack of communication, dispersion): people of a same settlement do not understand themselves.
We have the experience of Pentecost (Christ´s  experience, communication, gathering): people coming from many places understand each other, they proclaim the wonders of God).