|The Church, the Bride of Christ and Mother of the Faithful in Baptism, St. Hildegard, Scivias II.3.|
The Communal Character of the Human Vocation
As relational beings we are called to work with others, pray with others, and journey with others in our pilgrimage of faith. In fact it is impossible to love God and be in a relationship with Him, without loving and being in relationship with our neighbours, because after all, God is Communion, He is Relationship, a relationship between Father, Son and Spirit (see. Trinity). Furthermore, God in the Person of the Son became man through the Virgin Mary; and this is the same to say that God the Son became our neighbour. By extension this means that to love God requires us necessarily to love our neighbour, since in God the Son neighbour and God are one. The following excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) expound upon the social and relational aspect of the human person, the benefit he can draw from society -in the micro and macro sense, and the duty he has as a relational creature:
The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature. Through the exchange with others, mutual service and dialogue with his brethren, man develops his potential; he thus responds to his vocation. (CCC 1879).A society is a group of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that goes beyond each one of them. As an assembly that is at once visible and spiritual, a society endures through time: it gathers up the past and prepares for the future. By means of society, each man is established as an "heir" and receives certain "talents" that enrich his identity and whose fruits he must develop. He rightly owes loyalty to the communities of which he is part and respect to those in authority who have charge of the common good. (CCC 1880).
The Individual Character of the Human Vocation
Although we all share the universal vocation of love; we are called as unique individuals, “each by name” (Is 40:26; Jn 10:3). Thus although we are living cells making up the Body of Christ the Church, and are therefore bonded with one another to share in a relationship with God; we are called as individuals to enter into eternal union with God, a union which is unique, personal, secret and original. Yet it must be noted that often people seek the latter –a personal relationship with God- without ecclesial communion –the community of the Church; with the view often asserted: ‘I need God not the Church’ or ‘I love God but hate religion’. Such a position undermines the social and relational aspect to the nature of the human person. For though we are made to be in union with God, we are created as brothers and sisters in Christ of the one Father; and what else is the Church but the House in which we are called to live in as brothers and sisters in union with God. Such a communal and uniquely personal relationship with God is only made possible if one abides under the roof of the Church built by Christ Himself (Mt 16:18). Any person avoiding the Church, yet striving after a personal relationship with God, builds their relationship on the sand of their own ‘private institution’; and truly such a ‘house’ will fall when storms come; besides, a house built on sand can only be built so high until it topples over. This is unlike those who build their personal relationship on the Rock of the Church, for no wind can blow them into erroneous beliefs and thus cause their ‘house’ to fall; and there is no limit to the height such a ‘house’ can extend (i.e. the height of union with God one can reach in their personal relationship with Him). Of course there are those who though remaining in one sense 'in' the Church or 'on' the Rock of the Church, don't come to even build a house of personal intimacy with God -such persons are all 'head' and no 'heart' for their faith is mere ideology as opposed to a lived personal reality.
|The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple|
Finding God Within
How often do we seek God in the world without, either when we seek His Presence or when we seek to make other things, experiences or people into our gods? Indeed when Mary and Joseph lost the Child Jesus, they sought for Him everywhere but in vain. When they did find Him however, they found Him in the Temple; and Jesus simply replied to their puzzlement: "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" (Lk 2:49). Why is then that we seek the yearning of every man’s heart –the Lord Jesus- in things outside of us? As if He could be obtained through outward pious practices, deeds of love, intellectual study or the contemplation of nature? For truly we our Temples of the Spirit, we are the House of the Father; and to us the Lord says: ‘Why did you search for me outside of yourself? Did you not know that I was always within you and that still I am?’