Fr. Vincent Donovan has a story about serving as a priest in Tanzania. After spending a year preparing a group of Maasai he had to decide who seemed ready and who needed more study.
Ndangoya, the oldest man, politely, but firmly, said to him: “Padri, why are you trying to break us up and separate us? During this whole year you have been teaching us. We have talked about these things when you were not here, at night around the fire. Yes, there have been lazy ones in this community. But they have been helped by those with much energy. There are stupid ones in the community, but they have been helped by those who are intelligent. There are ones with little faith in this village, but they have been helped by those with much faith. Would you turn out and drive off those lazy ones and the ones with little faith and the stupid ones? From the first day I have spoken for these people – and I still speak for them. Now, on this day one year later, I can still declare for them and for all this community that we have reached the step in our lives where we can say, “We believe.”
I looked at the old man. “Excuse me, old man”, I said, “Sometimes my head is hard and I learn slowly. ‘We believe,’ you said. Of course you do. Everyone in the community will be baptized.”
Recently we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus – His receiving the baptism of repentance for sin – His becoming one with us. This coming Sunday we can listen to St. Paul speak to the Corinthians about being united in the same mind and in the same purpose. We see unity and community in Jesus sending his disciples out two at a time to share His message. May we find unity and community in all that we do this year.