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Recently, I started working with a personal trainer.  I actually started out in a class of about 6, but found I couldn’t remember exactly how to do the exercises and felt that it would be better to learn them one on one.  We oftentimes use the term “personal” to express a type of relationship, whether it be personal banker or personal coach. 

That same language gets translated into Christianity where we want to have a “personal relationship with Jesus.”  But that language runs contrary to what we find in scripture. Our life with Christ is communal, not personal or private or individual. When the Scriptures speak of believers, they are part of a community, a fellowship of other believers. When Jesus taught us to pray, he did not start out of “My Father, who art in heaven” but “OUR Father…” 

As the author of the book Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul, Chad Bird states:

“In an age when we are more isolated than ever, when our worlds often shrink to the size of a phone screen, talk of community sounds like a radical departure from the norm. It is. But the norm of the Christian faith is not isolated believers, little islands of spirituality, but a continent of Christians banded together by the Spirit. We are baptized into one body, the body of Jesus. Our so-called personal relationship with Jesus is indeed with his person—his body of which all other believers are a part.”

This is particularly true for us here in the “post pandemic” age.  We became isolated.  “Community events” happened on Zoom.  Many, many people never went into the office.  Church Services happened on Facebook Live. During that time, I, for one, craved the community that I had become so used to for support, encouragement, interpersonal contact.  When I did Services on Facebook Live to an empty Church, it was hollow.  Saying “The Lord be with you,” and not hearing a response was exhausting for me. 

So, a “personal relationship” with Jesus was about the best we could hope for outside of the rather sterile environment of the internet. If you were able to maintain a relationship with Jesus during this time, then that was the work of the Holy Spirit.

But things are getting back to normal.  NOW we should be concentrating on renewing our corporate relationship with the body of Jesus, the Church, of which we are all a part.  We can once again pray “Our Father…” in a community of faith. 

As Chad Bird continues:


Christianity is not a solo endeavor. Not a private relationship between Jesus and me. As the Lord formed Israel in the Old Testament as his people, forged together into a body by his covenant, so he has formed the church in the New Testament as his people, washed together into a body by baptism.

Thank God it is this way. Heaven forbid that I should have a personal relationship with Jesus. For I know what would happen: I would end up, in my mind, reshaping my personal Jesus into a strikingly familiar image: the image of me. 

As it is, Jesus is reshaping us into his image, in the church, surrounded by others, all of whom together, communally, are the one body of Christ.


Fr. Joseph Krasinski




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