Paul told the Corinthians: “we are many parts; we are all one body.”
This truth of faith — our oneness in Christ — is absolutely central to our living faith. We are the Mystical Body of Christ, blessed with the richness of many parts: gifts, talents and insights. We are the Church, God’s instrument of evangelization, the Body by which we go to God together and cooperatively embrace salvation in Christ Jesus. This sounds both glorious and difficult.
Yes, we are one Body, yet we don’t lose our individuality and independence. These truly remain, but we are reminded as members of the Body that these values are neither absolute or supreme. As faithful Catholics, we accept what this wisdom teaches: “We before me,” and we must work together to accomplish God’s will as we build His kingdom.
You are likely aware of the physical symptoms of COVID-19. I would posit there are other manifestations of the disease that afflict us, such as divisiveness, which is manifested in a binary thinking of us versus them, in harsh condemnation, in always thinking and expecting the worst, and in malignant mistrust of others, institutions and authority. Infected in this way, we no longer disagree with others; rather we despise and dismiss them.
We long for the pandemic to be over, no more privations and mitigations. We long for “a year of favor” when right reason and right judgment replace suspicion, mistrust and condemnation. We know God’s grace is not “infected” and it is no less present to us; it is forever and faithful. In our longing we must embrace grace and live it fully. Can we? Will we?
I struggle with the demands of being a member of the Body of Christ, going to God together. In this I have learned that as I live as a member of Christ’s Body, the only person I can change is me. Remember the comic strip POGO? His wisdom: “I have met the enemy and it is US/ME.” I’d prefer others to change, to let go of the lies and misinformation, the harsh judgments, the selfishness of my choice, my freedom. But grace given to me is for my transformation, thus transformed I can then bring grace, God’s gift, to the Body of Christ. Grace can change me — if I am unhappy and alone, it is on me; angry and disaffected, it is my choice. Will I cooperate? Will I want and choose this truth? I can be blessed and healed of our current malaise. God’s grace is abundant. Will I choose what only grace can accomplish?
Help me O Lord, heal me, that I might be a healer, give me a contrite and humble heart in order to understand, give me compassion, show me the works of unity so I might proclaim your Gospel, a faithful disciple following You, the way the truth and the life.
Father Cormack is a
Vincentian priest and pastor
of St. Catherine Laboure Parish in Sappington.