One Body, Many Parts

Today’s first Mass reading from Romans is one of those I think we could all benefit from taking to heart. Paul reminds us that

We, though many, are one Body in Christ
and individually parts of one another.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us,
let us exercise them:
if prophecy, in proportion to the faith;
if ministry, in ministering;
if one is a teacher, in teaching;
if one exhorts, in exhortation;
if one contributes, in generosity;
if one is over others, with diligence;
if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Many parts, one body: with each part given different gifts. If I can remember that then

– I can rejoice in the contributions and successes of others without jealousy because they are doing their part to further God’s plan.

– I can do my part without comparing myself to others, knowing that my task is simply to do the best I can with the gifts I have been given, and it is no matter whether my part is smaller or bigger than the part of others.

– I can avoid pride and embrace the humility of knowing that my gifts are not my own, but gifts from God.

– I can remember that it is God’s plan I am about, not my own.

It is a simple passage but one worth sitting with. It can make a tremendous difference in how we approach our work and our lives.

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2 thoughts on “One Body, Many Parts

  1. Susan, Thank you for this post. . .

    Catholics are often welcomed in most faith, social and secular settings when they are seen as ‘living out’ graciously and with humility ‘some’ of the message a steward like Pope Francis professes. How can we explain (justify) the secretive behavior of Church hierarchy – the ‘elevated’ shepherds ordained to exemplify the morality they dispense?

    What will be the fall-out from the two new books about the Vatican’s concealed inner workings to be released? Can both sides of topics of disagreement not be aired openly and respectfully?

    The Huffington (Post) Religion video of Chris Christie about addictions last October that has recently gone viral speaks to the sanctity of life and the fullness of Jesus’ messages – not merely marching behind placard’s proclamations in protest against issues like abortion.

    Mr. Christie speaks of how easy it is to be pro-life and profess to be an advocate for the sanctity of ‘life’. “To be pro-life is to be pro-life for the whole life, not just the nine months they are in the womb. It’s easy they haven’t been born yet and done anything to disappoint us. They’re perfect in there. But when they get out it’s when it gets tough. The 16 year old teenage girl on the floor of the county lock-up addicted to heroin. I’m prolife for her too.”

    Are we not all adoptive parents, including being adoptive parents of our own children? If we have been blessed to council a woman (and her spouse or partner) to keep an unwanted pregnancy is that new life not ours as well – partly our responsibility to see every child has all the love, nourishment, safety, security, support and financial help required to experience quality of life and reach their full potential as God desires?

    Pro-life is All-Life – One Body. One body defined in so many separate ways . . .

    One Body – Many Parts, many parts that include all of our brothers and sisters. . .

    Cyprian who was Baptized into the Church of Carthage some 43 years after St. Perpetua, Felicitous and their companions were martyred “provided us with the very earliest writings completely dedicated to the subject of the Eucharist. . . each Eucharist is not some new sacrifice added to past sacrifices. There is only one sacrifice in advance of its historical offering on Good Friday; all subsequent Eucharists re-present it, or make this unique sacrifice present and efficacious here and now.

    ‘We make mention of his passion in all sacrifices because the Lord’s passion is the sacrifice which we offer. Therefore we ought to do nothing else than what he did.” (Cyprian, Letter 63, 17) As Christ’s death on the cross was a sacrament of love that brought about the unity of all believers in ‘One Body’ so the Eucharist is a sacrament of unity. In its Eucharistic communion, the Church proclaims and deepens its unity as the Body of Christ: ‘In this very sacrament our people are shown to be made one, so that in like manner as many grains, collected, ground, and mixed together into one mass, make one bread, so in Christ, who is the heavenly bread, we may know, that there is one body, with which our number is joined and united.’ (Cyprian, Letter 63, 13)” (‘When the Church Was Young – Marcellino D’ambrosio)

    If the Catholic Church would see all of God’s children as ‘many grains,’ and set aside the differences that divide through Transubstantiation and Consubstantiation (Sacramental Union) a foretelling might begin to be realized of a reconciliation as Cyprian describes, “. . . many grains (our offerings of self to the Lord), collected, ground, and mixed together into one mass, make one bread, so in Christ, who is the heavenly bread, we may know, that there IS one body.”

    One can only pray for . . .

    One Body – Many Parts. . .

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