Sometimes it seems that the concept of neighbors and neighborhoods has been lost. In years past homes would have front porches that would enable neighbors to interact with each other on a regular basis.
Though there are some architectural examples of a return to front porches, most homes are still built without them. It is said that most people no longer live in the front of their house but rather in the back. Neighborhood associations are more often about making sure lawns are cut and houses kept up, than about bringing neighbors together. These days we keep our doors locked and many of us have security camera systems.
The prayers and exhortation of Jesus in the gospels stand in contrast to what we see so often today, people isolated from each other. Jesus tells us that the Christian experience is primarily a “we experience”, that we are called to be a community people. Remember Jesus’ famous quote, “I am the vine and you are the branches. I live in you and you live in me.”
Today we celebrate the feast of the Assumption and the part of Gospel reading that most homilists focus on is the part where Mary speaks of the great things that Jesus her son will do. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud, he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up lowly, he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
But equally important, I would suggest, is the first part of the passage where it tells us that when Mary received the news that she would be the mother of Jesus, one of the first things she does is travel to see Elizabeth and share the news with her. She seeks companionship. There is great comfort in knowing that we are never alone and great power comes from appreciating how much we belong.
Mary realizes that her son will do great things and that she will need strength to be able to give him the love and support that will help to make his mission possible. She realizes that belonging will make this possible.
Christians should be about building bridges with others; bridges toward the alienated, where rifts are healed, differences are reconciled, and places where we are committed to service to each other. The journey of discipleship is about walking together. It is about companionship, and Mary shows us the way.
And so, the question is, in what ways can we in our parish community show that indeed God is our father and we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper?
Image: “The Front Porch” by TexasEagle is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.