32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

TRANSFORMATIVE COMMUNITY

By Fr. Chris Valka, CSB

Our readings this week remind us that who we are now, is not who we will be.  The present age is as difficult for us as it was for our ancestors.  And though persecution is not what it used to be (some could argue it is worse), the resurrection – the idea that we are transformed – is eternal.

Over the past few weeks, many people have commented that they feel a new energy at St. Basil’s.  Of course, I am happy to hear this, but the temptation is to associate the change with my arrival.  While I appreciate the credit, it is really a group effort.

One of the books I frequently recommend (especially to those in leadership positions) is Community by David Block.  Among other things, David writes about “transforming communities.”  In order for a community to be such, he argues, people (1) should focus on the structure of how we gather and the context in which our gatherings take place; (2) work hard at getting the questions right; (3) choose depth over speed and relatedness over scale.

Traditionally, Block continues, the dominant belief is that better and more leadership, programs, funding, expertise, studies, training and master plans are the way to build community.  They are a path to improvement, but not transformation.

So what does a path to transformation look like?  In a word:   curiosity.

Think for a moment about your own reaction to things and people that make you curious.  Now think about your understanding of the Church. . . about your faith. . . about this parish. . . what are we curious about?

Is this the right question?  Does it give us permission to doubt in a safe context?  Does it give us permission to learn?   To ask a question?

On my Twitter account, I quote the line from David Block, “Questions themselves are an art form worthy of a lifetime of study.”  He elaborates, “Questions that trigger argument, analysis, explanation, and defense have little power.  They may be interesting, but that is different from being powerful.  Rather, A great question has three qualities:  it is ambiguous, personal, and evokes anxiety.

May we have the courage to ask such questions . . . questions that evoke a deeper curiosity and lead to transformation.