1 Corinthians 12:12-30
One of the emphases of our new church, which structurally opens us up to the world around us through our south window, is our connectedness to the rest of God’s good creation.
The newspapers and the TV have been filled with strange weather happenings around the globe – we’ve had a mild December and most of January while Victoria has had snow and cold weather. Governments around the world are facing up to the reality of global warming. We are finally admitting that human consumerism and pollution are taking their toll on the health of the planet. As I’ve said before, the earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth and what we do to the earth we do to ourselves – we did not weave the web of life, we are a strand in the web and what we do to the web we do to ourselves. All life systems of the planet are interconnected and interdependent. As individuals and as a species we cannot life in isolation – what we do and how we live affects those around us.
As it is with our life on planet earth, so it is with our life within the church.
This truth is expressed so powerfully in today’s second reading of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and his description of the church, not the building but the people, as the body of Christ. Christ is the head of the body and we, each one of us, are important members of that body we call church. No one member of the body can say to any other member of the body ‘I have no need of you’. The Pope cannot say that to us, nor can we say it to the Pope. Our new Archbishop cannot say that to us, nor can we say that to him. We cannot say that to the person sitting next to us at this Mass. We do need one another.
As St. Paul reminds us, ‘when one member suffers the whole body suffers, when one member is honored all rejoice with it together.’ In the past few years the body of the church has suffered because of the scandals of sexual abuse – we are a wounded church, a wounded body in need of healing. At the same time, we as church can rejoice over the lives and example of good men and women who brought life and holiness to the church – and I’m thinking here of the late Archbishop Tony Meagher of Kingston, who used to be the pastor of Blessed Trinity Parish. He was a good man and a holy man who served the church – the body of Christ – well. The truth of the matter is, the body of Christ is holy if we are holy, and it is wounded when we failed to live our lives as followers of Christ.
As members of the body of Christ each of us can echo the words of Jesus in today’s gospel – the Spirit of the Lord has been given to me – at our baptisms and confirmations – the Lord anointed us – to bring good news to the poor. The good news of God’s love for each of us when God sent His Son into the world to die for us – the good news that Christ is with us no matter what our faults and failings – the good news that no matter how much we may devalue our own self worth, Christ thought enough of us to die for us. Because of our baptisms and confirmation each of us can say, I have been sent to proclaim release to captives – not necessarily people in prison but friends and family members held captive by addictions, by unhealthy relationships, held captive by depression or discouragement. As members of the Body of Christ each of us can offer new sight to the blind – good people blind to their own goodness, good people blind and indifferent to the needs of the poor right in our own neighbourhood, good people blind to God’s concern for them.
Each of us in sent to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor – that the grace and love and power and healing of our loving God is with us always – yesterday, today, tomorrow.
As with planet earth so with the church we are one, we are interconnected, interdependent – we cannot say to any one ‘I have no need of you.’
As we continue to celebrate this Mass on a day on which we begin a week of prayer for the unity of all Christians, we can pray for ourselves and for each other for the grace and insight we need to see how important each of us is for the well being of the church, the body of Christ – for the church is wounded when we are unfaithful to our call to be Christ-like but the church is holy when we are who we are called to be – the body of Christ – for the Spirit of the Lord has been given to us.