Book Review – The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom by Jamie Arpin-Ricci

by Mark Votava

download (1)

I love this book by Jamie Arpin Ricci!  The Cost of Community goes through the life of St. Francis of Assisi and Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount to demonstrate how we are to embody the kingdom of God in the here and now as the body of Christ.  Jamie Arpin Ricci offers many true stories from the work of Little Flowers Community in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  I was inspired to seek righteousness through the quality of my relationships where love, mercy and compassion can be practiced with the poor in community.

  • Righteousness is manifested in the quality of our relationships 

“…righteousness describes the quality of relationships which characterizes life together in the kingdom.”

  • Jesus is calling us to live counterculturally

“Jesus is calling his people – he is commanding us – to live counterculturally.  To do otherwise in this respect is not only an act of disobedience but an active step into the very bondage that robs us of our freedom to live obediently.”

  • Finding Christ in the poor

“Christ says we will find him in and among the poor and hungry…”

  • Living into the here and now

“…righteousness is better understood through the lens of justice, that is, right relationship with others, especially in respect to those on the margins, ‘the least of these.’  Again we are reminded that God’s kingdom and justice transform the here and now, affecting the whole of creation, not just some imagined, spiritual segment of our being; such a division between the physical and the spiritual is foreign to Christ.  Every individual and even all of creation was understood to be indivisibly whole…”

  • A way of life which is not impossible to follow

“Jesus would not call us into a lifestyle that is impossible to follow…”

  • The soil of belonging, the embrace of authentic community

“…we are prone to look at our salvation in Christ through purely individualistic terms.  Rather, Jesus has (by the Holy Spirit) made us into his body, the church.  Therefore, it is in the soil of belonging, in the embrace of true community, that the seed of belief can best be reborn to new life.  Unless that seed has the life-giving, life-sustaining soil in which to be planted, we cannot expect its transformation.”

  • Looking for the plank in our own eye

“After all, the greatest threat to our faith is ourselves.  Again we are reminded that we are to look for the plank in our own eye, examining our own heart and the choices borne there.  Our impulse is to look outside of ourselves to assign the blame for our failings and compromises, but we must nurture the disciplines of self-examination, mutual confession and hopeful affirmation.  Jesus laid out the right path for us, but we must set foot on it, every moment of every day, entering by the gate of his cross to pursue and participate in his kingdom.”

How can we pursue the cost of community?