Fr. David Kinnear Glenday, MCCJ
June 25, 2016
Today, the invitation is to pray the grace of community—of sisterhood.
Pallottines would, in the same breath, say the grace of Cenacle. In the Chapel by the altar is the picture of the Cenacle. These Sisters want to be Cenacle. Pallotti wanted his Sisters to be Cenacle.
Today, we are invited to pray the grace of Cenacle. Here are a few suggestions to begin your prayer, reflection and sharing. The suggestion would be: let Jesus lead you into the Cenacle.
We can say Cenacle is “by invitation only.” So let Jesus lead you into the upper room into His community. Let Jesus introduce you to his sisters and brothers. Let him take you by the hand and lead you into this grace. This is why this Gospel text was chosen.
When we say Cenacle we tend to begin with Pentecost. But in the Gospel, Cenacle does not begin with Pentecost but begins with the Last Supper. Cenacle begins with the Gospel we just read. If we want to receive the grace of Cenacle in all its beauty and richness, if we want Jesus to lead us into the Cenacle, we must begin where Jesus began.
In the Gospel of Luke, that is Luke 22:7.
Allowing Jesus to lead us in this way, what is the community to which He introduces us? Yesterday, when I arrived, Sr. I introduced me to a number of Sisters—Jesus leads us and says this is Peter . . . this is . . .
What does Jesus show us? In the first place, Jesus shows us an imperfect community. A very, very, very imperfect community. Think of the Gospel we just read. What do we find there? This is Jesus’ community. This is the one that Jesus has invited. What do we find? We find betrayal. The one who is going to betray me. His hand is one the table. We find denial. Peter, before the cock crows, you will say not once but three times that you do not know me.
Not that you knew me but now you don’t know me! Denial.
We find ambition. Can you imagine that after the first thanksgiving in history, the first discussion was who is the greatest? Can you imagine something more contrary to what happened? This is my body; this is my blood. Who is the greatest?
We find deafness. In fact Jesus says, Peter: listen. And what does Simon do, he does not listen. I am praying for you. Peter answers that Jesus, you need to pray for someone else because I know what I am going to do.
We find insensitivity. The disciples and the apostles seem to be in another place on another wave length. First of all, we notice how clear the Gospel is here and how insistent the Gospel is. Then, we remember the author of the Gospel is the Holy Spirit.
In other words, it is the Spirit’s will that we come to know the imperfection of Jesus’ community. This is Good News! It is a miracle because when political parties and nations and other groups write the history of their origins, they always rub out the imperfections of their founders. But the Holy Spirit, leaves the imperfections for us all to know. That is Good News! That is the Holy Spirit’s gift to us.
It is wonderful and striking that the first Christian community could write these words about their leaders/founders. It is something beyond human. It is something of the Spirit.
Jesus, introduces us to this very imperfect community. He says to us that my community is the community that I am forming. The community of Jesus is the community where Jesus is present for me in community. It is not the community that conforms to his plan but that he is forming so that it may correspond. This is very beautiful and encouraging. It is also very challenging because it gives us this question: In our congregation, in our community, in our Chapter—where is Jesus present for me in community? It is not helpful to ask whether our correspond to the Gospel. When we say that, we have not made progress. It is more stimulating and challenging to ask, “Where is Jesus present?”
I dare say to say this is part of the responsibility of the General Chapter to discern how Jesus is present in the Congregation forming community. So that we may work with Him, collaborate with him, build with Him. How can we help you, Jesus? Very simple. How can we give you a hand?
To recognize the presence of Jesus forming the community, it is beautiful to contemplate this Gospel and to see how Jesus forms the Cenacle. How does Jesus bring the Cenacle into being?
Here are verbs from this Gospel – here, today, what is Jesus doing to make the Cenacle a reality among us and through us?
- Jesus calls
You will see how Luke underlines that the Cenacle is an initiative of Jesus. He chooses who is to prepare and gives them instruction as to how to prepare the room. He calls.
Where is Jesus taking this initiative now? How is Jesus calling you deeper into the Cenacle? This is not a high theological ideal but an experience Why are we here? We are here because Jesus called. We are all unique. We are from different continents, temperaments and languages.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer formed a community of pastors during the war and wrote a book, Life In Common. Remember brothers that community is a theological—not a psychological reality. Without faith, there is no community. Jesus calls.
- Jesus waits
Origin—the great Father of the Church reflected on Jesus words, “I will not drink the fruit of this vine” – Origin says that Jesus is waiting for you. “I will not start eating until you arrive.” He goes on to say, “If God is a Father, God cannot be completely happy without me or without you.” Part of Jesus’ forming community is loving waiting.
About eight years ago I gave a retreat to some Missionaries in Japan. I was very disappointed with the men missionaries, from the beginning of retreat to the end, who never stopped talking. I thought, “This is hopeless. This has not been a retreat.”
Two weeks ago I received a thank you note reminding me of three words that were important for him. That is how it goes. Loving—waiting. Jesus waits. We all know this. If Jesus did not wait for us, where would we be? He would still be waiting.
Sisters, you made a pilgrimage to the Holy Door. I received a photo of a panel of the Holy Door with Jesus as the Good Shepherd – Jesus reaching down to reach the sheep—Loving and waiting.
- Jesus remains
Do you think Jesus was happy with the behavior of the disciples at the Last Supper? He might have had the temptation to say to them, “We have been together for three years; you have not gotten the point. I will start over again.” Jesus remains.
- Jesus motivates with mission
John 17:21 – Father, may they be one so that the world may believe.
Here in the heart of Jesus, we find the essential link between mission and community. In Jesus’ understanding of mission, there is no mission without community. Thank God you are not called the individual missionary Pallottines. The link “sisters” comes from Jesus. The world believes because we are one.
Our community is our first and most effective message.
I know this is very challenging. The beautiful story of St. Matia Malumba, senior Uganda martyr started life as a Muslim. He was a carpenter and began working for the Christians. He became a Protestant. He then began working for the White Fathers. He began watching them, and their witness of community brought him to the fullness of faith in Jesus and gave us a martyr.
My father became a Catholic when he was 71. He was a Scottish Presbyterian—he became a Catholic one month before I went to Uganda for missionary work.
After my father made his first holy communion, my uncle, who was a priest, called to congratulate. I overheard my uncle, “Tony, why have you done this at 71?” He answered, “Dom, it was Josephine (his wife).” People create faith.
- Jesus forms community by praying for the community
It is so beautiful because Jesus is praying for the deaf, insensitive . . .
Community cannot be formed without contemplation. Yesterday, after the Mass, I returned to my community. There were many jokes about the British; as I am British. The confreres, in their way, were consoling me. They were expressing their solidarity with me. They put it in words, “Don’t worry, David. We support you.”
If we are living contemplatively, we notice the gifts of community—not just the limitations of others.
> Jesus gives himself
The building of community requires nothing less than the gift of myself.
I gave a retreat to confreres in Germany. In English I told them that community is a gift. The Germans began to laugh because the word gift in German is “poison”.
Questions for reflection:
See what Jesus points out to you in Luke 22.
> What has been my discovery in this Cenacle?
> In my missionary life, where have I met Jesus forming community?
> How do I desire that Jesus forms the community of the General Chapter?