Much has been written about the identity of “the beloved disciple” or “the one whom Jesus loved” as it appears in John’s gospel. One of the great biblical scholars of our day, Fr Raymond Brown, when asked about this by our own Monsignor Connolly, explained it this way: “The Beloved Disciple, the hero of the community, is singled out as the particular object of Jesus’ love. The Beloved Disciple is not one person but an image of all disciples. In fact all those who follow Jesus seeking discipleship are in fact beloved.”
Monsignor Connolly was deeply inspired by Fr. Brown’s suggestion that “the one whom Jesus loved” could be any of us. And thus the concept of each of us being “the beloved” has been woven into the fabric of the Holy Family community quilt. In fact, for the 2010 centennial of Holy Family Church, a statue of the beloved disciple was commissioned by artist, Tomasz Misztal, and now resides in the niche on the south side of the church. To read more about this compelling subject – please visit our Beloved Disciple page.
And so, as we continue to deepen and explore the meaning of all aspects of what it means to be “the one whom Jesus loves”, this year we are especially asking what it means to live in a community of beloved disciples. Holy Family parishioner and “roving reporter” Flannery LaGrua has taken it “to the people” of our parish to ask them what they think it means to live out the call of living and worshiping together as followers of Jesus Christ.
From Flannery: While you are reading this article, take a moment to think about the people who collectively make up the face of Holy Family Church. The people who sit near you during mass, the people who go to a different mass time than you, children, young adults, the elderly, married couples, single persons, the divorced and the widowed, people of all different backgrounds who come together as individuals participating in the Holy Family community. When I was approached to write this article, it was with the intention of reaching out and giving the parishioners a voice. With a monthly question (or questions), I hope to start a conversation about our community. What is my community? What do I need from my community? What does my community need from me? These are big questions and ones I ask myself as I seek my place here at Holy Family. I hope that as this discussion grows we all can find the answers to these questions.
This year Holy Family Church is exploring what it means to be ” Living in a Community of Beloved Disciples”. I want to start off the discussion by breaking down these key elements. I asked three questions over the last few weeks: What is community? Who is the Beloved Disciple? What does it mean to live in a community of Beloved Disciples? I know that as the year continues our understandings of these terms and ideas will grow and develop.
1. What is community?
“Community brings all people together as one family.” – Anonymous
“Friends and family that gather together for a common task.” – Mariana
“Community is dynamic and evolving. It’s being affiliated and connected, feeling at home.” – Daniel
“A group of people living prayer together and coming together through a relationship with each other.” – Cambria Smith
“Being supportive and compassionate towards each other and providing a safety net for when things go wrong. Community provides a sense of comfort and belonging. A shared sense of identity.” – Jennifer
2. What does it mean to be a Beloved Disciple?
“A follower and believer. To commit heart and soul to the Lord.” – Anonymous
“My understanding changed with the new statue. It’s all of us. Each of us. Jesus calls and pulls us. Loves us. I feel loved.” – Mariana
“Knowing that for all I am, I am loved. I am a work in progress. God calls me to love everyone else who is in the community in the same way, to see them as loved by God.” – Daniel
“I think ‘How would Jesus treat this person’. Look at the community – even if you don’t know them or are not related to them, love and support each other. Treat one another as if you were Jesus.” – Jennifer
“Someone who isn’t a saint, but anyone. A good citizen who is nice to people.” – Samantha
3. What does it mean to live in a community of Beloved Disciples?
“True believers living amongst the people. In community we commit together to a better life and world. It’s your backbone, your roots.” – Anonymous
“Here I see lived out a myriad of different paths of expression. We have so many services allowing us to connect and meet the needs of the community. We are not a community that professes to be better than anyone and is by no means perfect, but continues to express love. We’re not insular. We reach out, even globally. Love means not being insular.” – Daniel
“First and foremost it means to emulate Jesus Christ’s love. To fully receive and experience the love of Jesus and in turn be a conduit to shine His love into the world. The light of this love falls first on the community. In Mass we are gathered for the sacramental moment of transformation [Eucharist] which transforms us at the same time. At the end of Mass we are told to go forth and spread Jesus’ love into the world. That is where the apostolate of the laity comes in. Each person has to discern for his or her self how best to be the light of the world for others, manifesting the love Jesus modeled for us. We shine this light by radiating peace, joy, hope, faith, and compassion in practical, concrete ways.
What are we called to do is to transform the world around us, to feel the fullness of God’s love in all its manifestations both physically and spiritually?” – Cambria Smith
“You are in a place where you are respected and accepted for who you are.” – Samantha
The relationships that are built inside the walls of this church and the structure of mass extend well beyond a few hours on Sunday. Community is always growing and the people with it. I hope that by sharing our ideas, we can bring ourselves closer into our community, strengthening it in the process. My challenge for you is to consider your own answers to these questions and please share them with us by adding them to the “comments” section below.
– Flannery LaGrua