Sandy's Comments

Humanity as community

Father Richard Rohr (Centre for Action and Contemplation) reflects on humanity as community. He views community and connectedness as central to the Christian life and intrinsic to Reality itself. It is an interesting insight into our unity in Christ. (Published first on 3 July 2022)

In the beginning God says, “Let us make humanity in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves” (Genesis 1:26). The use of the plural pronoun here seems to be an amazing, deep-time intuition of what Christians would later call the Trinity, which is the revelation of the nature of God as community, as relationship itself, a Mystery of perfect giving and perfect receiving. The Body of Christ is another metaphor for this bonding. “Reality as communion” is the template and pattern for our entire universe, from atoms to galaxies, and certainly in human community.

We come to know who God is through exchanges of mutual knowing and loving. God’s basic method of communicating God’s self is not the “saved” individual, the rightly informed believer, or even a person with a career in ministry. God communicates primarily through the journey and bonding process that God initiates in community: in marriages, friendships, families, tribes, nations, schools, organizations, and churches who are seeking to participate in God’s love, maybe without even consciously knowing it.

Thomas Merton wrote, “The Christian is not merely ‘alone with the Alone’ in the Neoplatonic sense, but [is] One with all ‘brothers and sisters in Christ.’ The Christian’s inner self is, in fact, inseparable from Christ and hence it is in a mysterious and unique way inseparable from all the other ‘I’s’ who live in Christ, so that they all form one ‘Mystical Person,’ which is ‘Christ.’” [1]

Until and unless Christ is experienced as a living relationship between people, the gospel remains largely an abstraction. Until Christ is passed on personally through faithfulness and forgiveness toward another, through concrete bonds of union, I doubt whether he is passed on by words, sermons, institutions, or ideas.

Living in community means living in such a way that others can access me and influence my life. It means that I can get “out of myself” and serve the lives of others. Community is a world where kinship with each other is possible. By community I don’t mean primarily a special kind of structure, but a network of relationships. Sadly, on the whole, we live in a society that’s built on competition, not on community and cooperation.

If the Trinity reveals that God is relationship itself, then the goal of the spiritual journey is to discover and move toward connectedness on ever new levels. The contemplative mind enjoys union on all levels. We may begin by making little connections with nature and animals, and then grow into deeper connectedness with people. Finally, we can experience full connectedness as union with God and frankly everything.

Without connectedness and communion, we don’t exist fully as our truest selves. Becoming who we really are is a matter of learning how to become more and more deeply connected. No one can possibly go to heaven alone—or it would not be heaven when they got there.


[1] Thomas Merton, The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation, ed. William H. Shannon (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003), 22. Note: minor edits made for inclusive language.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Essential Teachings on Loveselected by Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018), 65, 102–103, 104–105; and

Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1991, 2003), 65.