January 23, 2022: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Associate Pastor’s Corner
“God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.” –1 Cor. 12:24-27
Have you ever got a paper cut? For me there is always a sense of betrayal when a benign piece of paper, a soft, floppy object somehow manages to draw blood. And even though the cut is small, it still stings and distracts your attention from whatever it was that you were doing with the paper in the first place. St. Paul’s observation that if one part suffers, the whole body suffers is all too true: it’s not so much that a paper cut causes my finger pain, but that it causes me pain, the whole body suffers.
This is due to the simple fact that our bodies are not simply an assemblage of parts like a car, which is assembled from parts in a factory. No, God has constructed the body as a unity with no division. Indeed, modern medicine reveals how true this is, every cell in our bodies contains the DNA—the blueprints—for the whole body, not only the bits relevant for that cell. Our bodies do not have seams; they can’t be disassembled and reassembled without traumatic damage.
So it is even more profound for us today to reflect on St. Paul’s extraordinary claim that we are Christ’s Body, and individually parts of it. As Americans, we are more used to thinking of ourselves as independent, autonomous agents, acting how we please, but the reality is that we are highly dependent upon one another and united by our culture, our laws, and our shared needs.
As the Church, the mystical Body of Christ, this is even more true, because, as members of the Christ’s Body, we are united by more than geographical proximity or bonds of fraternity. We are united by the Holy Spirit, much as our spirit enlivens and unites our body. Moreover, God has created the Church, not by assembling parts together, like people joining a club, but rather he has constructed this Body as a unity from the beginning. They say that blood is thicker than water, that family comes before everything else. How much more must this be true for members of the same Body?
As members of Christ’s Body, we should first be aware of the condition of our fellow members. Celebrate their triumphs and successes, mourn their losses and failures, and take an active interest in their lives.
Bring this awareness to prayer: thank God for his gifts and blessings given to those around you, beg God’s mercy for those afflicted with the wounds of sin, ask him for what they need, and adore the Lord for creating all the diversity of the Church’s members.
But don’t stop with prayer! Love your neighbor as yourself, because, as members of the One Body of Christ, there is sense in which your neighbor is yourself, you are both members of the same Body. Feed the hungry, cloth the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, bury the dead, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, forgive offenses.
Finally, ponder this unity whenever you, a member of Christ’s mystical Body, receive the Eucharist, the Body of Christ.
-Fr. Christopher Wetzel