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  • Sarah Raad

Groups

I am a member of the Group that contains God. How gloriously wonderful that is! How glorious!

The Visitation (Domenico Ghirlandaio)

I was teaching a university student online the other day and they were very worried because they had to complete an assessment as part of a group and they were very worried about whether the group would drag them down and cause them to be in danger of failing their course.


Over the years I have taught many students in a similar situation – it is a common one – in fact, when I was a university student myself, I used to dread the group work.


I remember doing a group assignment in my third year of university, for a difficult finance subject. One of the members of the group was a young man who has gone on in the years since to become a very famous motivational speaker and adventure-seeker. His career is inspirational, but his participation in the group was not... Though he is a very intelligent person, he missed every group-assigned deadline that we created to achieve certain milestones of the work, and then, he spent his time asking the rest of the group to continually re-draft the assessment to his satisfaction despite not actually contributing anything to the process himself. He was frustrating to work with.


This was just one experience that I had with a group – but there were others too, of course…


Once I was in a group with a couple of international students who spoke such little English that I had serious doubts that they had any potential to actually understand anything that I said to them the entire time we worked together.


And there were other groups too...


I remember one group where one boy in the group never showed up for the group meetings – we had to meet face to face in the library or study centres in those days as Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat had not yet been invented and mobile broadband was a dream for science fiction novels.


And in another group, one of the poor girls in the group was struggling so much with the subject that she barely understood a thing and found it very difficult to complete her component of the work.

Regardless of the group or the experience within it, one thing is common… In group-work, the work is only ever as good as the contribution made by the weakest member of the group. It is like the old adage that a chain is only as strong as the weakest link… But now I wonder… Is it?

After all, though nobody wants to be considered the weakest link – in a way, that is exactly what each of us really are! Because we are all weak through sin. That is what it meant when humankind FELL in the Garden of Eden through Original Sin.


Only three humans have ever been were born without sin (excluding Adam and Eve, who were created and not born)…


The First was Our Blessed Mother – the Mother of God. Not only was She born without sin, but she was conceived without sin as well so that She would be purified to carry God within Her womb. This is why we say, “Hail Mary FULL of Grace…” in the Hail Mary, because we are told, “The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’” Because She was literally WITH the Lord through sinlessness (Luke 1:28).


The Second was Saint John the Baptist. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1:41). That was the moment when Saint John the Baptist was baptised and cleansed of Original Sin so that he would be worthy of Baptising Christ – the “Living Water” – who made all the waters clean.


And then there was Christ – the Messiah, the Son of God, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). As the Immaculate Conception He is without sin because God is perfect goodness and GOODNESS cannot sin (which is badness), so God cannot be perfectly good with a bad sin on His Holy soul…


And this comforts me because I am part of this Group, which means that I am a member of such a group, because I am the child of the Living God. This means that though I am the weakest link in the chain or the littlest person in the group, I am also as Strong as my God… For it is He who gives me Grace and He who sustains me and in Him I can find my rest.


For the Lord God of the Universe was born into a stable, so that I could join His Group, and be safe there – no matter how weak and sinful I am – even until the end of time!


And there is no other group to which I would rather belong.


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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