Today’s first lectionary reading is from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 12: 12-14, 27-31a.
As I read it I noticed that a large portion of the chapter had been omitted. This is often done to shorten the reading. But in this case I feel something important has been left out.
In working with catechists and in materials for religious education here, I have used 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27 in a dynamic way.
I begin asking the catechists to draw a body and write the parts of the body on the paper. Then I read St. Paul in parts, emphasizing that we are one body in Christ, the Church.
But Paul is very clear that we aren’t all the same; all of us have different functions. He even says that “the parts of our body that we mist need are those that seem to be the weakest; the parts that we consider lower are treated with more care and we cover them with more modesty…” (1 Corinthians 12: 22-23).
We talk about how we need all the parts of the body. We get concrete talking about how we feel when we have stomach problems or a headache. Nothing seems to work.
We need all the parts of the body – not just those appointed to positions in the Church.
Then I have the catechists come forward and write their names on the part of the body that they feel most represents them and their work,
We then read and reflect on verse 27:
You are the Body of Christ
and each of you is a member of that Body.
The catechists will do the same process with the young people they work with, helping them see that each one of us has an important role in the Church. This is extremely important in a society that looks down upon the poor.
Finally we conclude with the prayer of St. Teresa of Avila
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.
For as He is the Head of the Body,
so you are the members;
and we are all one in Christ.
Unless we remember this, we might forget the important role that everyone plays – from the Pope in Rome to the illiterate adolescent in a rural Honduran village. We all are part of Christ’s Body – with a role, with a mission: building up God’s Reign of Love in this world.