Saint Paul’s sense of humor

I would never have realized that St. Paul had a sense of humor until I facilitated a workshop for catechists in the remote village of Agua Buena, Concepción, yesterday.

There were nineteen of us and I was using an activity to help the people understand the Church as the Body of Christ in the world, an activity they could use with confirmation candidates.

After they shared some ideas they had of the church, we talked a bit about the Church as the Body of Christ and we read 1 Corinthians 12: 12-13.

Then, I wanted them to draw a body on some sheets of papers I had. Nobody wanted to and so I had one of the guys lay on the paper and I drew around him. Then I asked them to write the names of the different parts of the body.

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I had to do a little prompting and so we added rectum and sexual organs.

I had done this activity with two other groups last week, but this group added a part that neither group had before – breasts!

Then I had them read 1 Corinthians 12: 14-26.

As they read verse 17, I heard a few snickers:

If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

Somehow they had gotten the image of a body that was only an eye or an ear. And it was funny.

We talked a bit and I shared how they had helped me see the humor in Saint Paul. What would a body look if it was only an ear?

That’s ridiculous, absurd, funny – and tragic.

We talked about how we need all the parts of the body and if we lack one something is missing.

Then, after reading verse 27 (“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.”), I had them write their names or a symbol of themselves near the part of the body of Christ that they were.

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To close I read St. Teresa of Avila’s prayer:

 Christ has no body on earth but yours;
no hands on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks out
with compassion on the world.
Yours are the feet with which he chooses
to go about doing good.

Today, while writing this entry I remembered a portion of a painting I saw in a Berlin art gallery in November 2006. The antithesis of Paul’s image of the Body of Christ, sorely tragic:

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