Thursday, January 24, 2019

We are one body in Christ

This Sunday’s second reading from the letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians is one of his better known messages, one that many of us have heard on numerous occasions but I think often times don’t contemplate what it fully means.  We hear Paul say:

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.

But what does that really mean?  How does that affect me or change my life?  What does it mean that we are all part of Christ’s body?

I think there are two important ways to look at this passage; one that is easy and pleasant to think about and one that is a lot harder and potentially more painful.

Let’s start off with the easy, pleasant thought – We are all part of Christ’s body and when we come together we work as Christ would.  We all have different talents and abilities that God has given us and we are called to use them to the fullest.  When we do that, everyone thrives: the Church thrives, the community thrives, we are happy.  No matter who you are: the 3 year old that is having trouble sitting through Mass, the teenager that doesn’t know if they really believe in all of this “Jesus stuff”, the high school or college student who just had an amazing retreat experience who thinks they have it all figured out, the young married couple who just had their first baby, or the couple who is struggling with infertility, the old married couple who just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, the family who just went through a painful divorce, the varsity athlete, the shy introvert, the person struggling with their sexuality; the list could go on and on, but no matter who you are or where you are at in life, you have a special gift to contribute to the body of Christ. And that is awesome.  Together we all make up Christ’s body, no matter how different we may be, we are one in Christ together.

Now comes the hard part of that message: 

            “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it.” 

When one of our brothers or sisters is hurting, we hurt.  That is why social justice issues are so important in the Church.  When we see people struggling with hunger, we hurt.  When people are homeless, especially in these freezing temperatures, we hurt.  When someone is killed before they have a chance to be born, we hurt.  When someone is bullied or ostracized at school, we hurt.  When a child is kicked out of their house because they tell their parents they are gay, we hurt.  When someone is sick and can’t receive medical care, we hurt.  When an elderly person isn’t seen as having any value or worth, so they are tossed to the side and left to die, we hurt.  When a person is persecuted because of the color of their skin, or country they are from, or language they speak, or religion they practice, we hurt. 

So what do we do when part of our body hurts?  We try to help it heal and feel better.  That is what we are called to do for our brothers and sisters in Christ and it all starts with love.  Love one another.  Give generously, not only out of your surplus but your need as well.  If you see someone being bullied or persecuted, stand up and say something.  Be the voice for the voiceless.  Fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.  March for those who can’t march for themselves.

If we really want to be a part of Christ’s body, we must care for all members of his body and love like Christ loved.

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