Side by Side!

Philippians 1:27-28

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents.

Many people lament the lack of community they feel in their lives.  But many people go about seeking community in a very wrong-headed way too.  Community, like health, is a by-product of other, more important things.  People who seek health seldom find it.  For the way you get health is not by seeking health, but by loving good food, exercise and fresh air.  Health comes as a by-product.  Similarly, people who seek “community” usually don’t get it for the same reason we don’t get friends by buttonholing strangers in a corner, fixing them with a stare and demanding, “Let’s have a really good talk now!”  Community and friendships are found, not by standing face to face, but by standing “side by side” and looking at something else.  Paul knows this and so reminds us that the oneness we have in Christ comes, not by trying to have oneness, but by “striving side by side for the faith of the gospel”.  The very liturgy reminds us this, for in it we are nearly always side by side to face the altar, not each other.  Seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things—-including community—-will be added to you as well.

Mark Shea

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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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