Foolishness of the Cross

I’ve been (finally) working on my paper on the new monastic community that John Michael Talbot began in the 1970s called The Brothers and Sisters of Charity. It is a really interesting Catholic community that draws upon many traditions such as contemplative and charismatic. It is a community that allows for celibates, singles and married couples and families to join in the monastic tradition. One of the reasons I chose this community was because it has been around for awhile and being in a relatively new monastic community and witnessing and participating in the struggles that come with this newness, I was eager to learn and be encouraged by a community that has grappled with many of the issues we are tackling and have come through to the other side.

As I’ve been writing and reflecting on their Rule and Rhythm of Life, I’ve been noticing how humility plays into so much of their way of life. Their lives are lived in common – common purse, common decisions, each member serving the community – so that no one can boast.

Lately I have been struggling with being humble – with finding a healthy balance between assured of who I am in Christ and being proud. I think it is really easy in community to start to think of all the ways *I* have contributed and to think of myself more highly than I ought. It is easy to compare myself with others and justify myself by thinking I contribute more than what others do. It is easy to get frustrated when my efforts aren’t noticed, aren’t praised and at times are not even welcome.

And then there’s Bob. I’ve talked about Bob before – for those who haven’t met him, he lives on the margins of society. Many churches and many people struggle to relate to him because, as he says, he is different. As I sit here writing, he is hard at work preparing paper cut out decorations for members of our community who are getting married next month. He comes in to our house and quietly takes out the trash and the compost, often without any of us noticing. He looks out for household items that we might need. In the fall, he raked the leaves. and then he quietly leaves our house. He then goes on to another church to do “random acts of violence” there… I should say that he has a wonderful sense of humour and often you need to take what he says and hear the opposite… he really means “random acts of love”. He doesn’t ask for praise, he doesn’t boast of his works. He just serves.

I’ve been studying 1 Corinthians this week. And these verses stood out to me: “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1:27-28).

This is the foolishness of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18) – that God chose those whom the world has rejected to bring about his kingdom. I am so thankful for people like Bob in my life for showing me what true humility looks like in community.

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