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As it is, there are many members, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12:20 NRS)

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27 NRS)

Other than in B-grade horror movies and perhaps the occasional bad dream, body parts acting on their own, separate from an entire body, are not typically the norm of everyday life. There is a vital, life-giving connection necessary for each part to be sustained by the body. When that connection is weakened or compromised, or worse yet, completely severed, the ability of that part of the body to function is threatened or lost. A body is an interconnected, interrelated, interdependent system, not a random collection of pieces stuck together without a unified purpose. Although the various parts may have different functions and abilities, they simply cannot exist without a primary body (sci-fi/lab experiments notwithstanding).

St. Paul reminds the people of faith in Corinth of this crucial, life-giving, life-sustaining relationship of parts-to-body. In baptism, they were made part of the body of Christ, grafted into Christ and also grafted into each other. But wait! There’s more! Like living cells bind together to make larger systems and organs, and those things were connected together to make a whole body, the individual members comprise the body/part of Church of Corinth, which in turn was part of the larger organ of the growing religious movement that became known as Christianity.

In the same way, each of us is made a living cell in the body of Christ via baptism. When we are separated from the whole body, we are unable to receive the necessary life that comes from that relationship. We may even think that life can be found elsewhere, by other means. Nor is the whole body able to fulfill its purpose without all of its constituent parts. It must either adapt to new ways of accomplishing tasks or give in to the loss of certain functions/abilities.

As with actual living bodies, individual members that experience weakened, compromised or severed connections with faith communities likely find it challenging to sustain and fully engage faith and spirituality. Faith communities clearly struggle to meet and fulfill their purpose and mission of serving and sharing God’s love when not all the parts of the body are participating.

The best news is it’s not too late! As with our own physical bodies, the life-giving relationships of part-to-body and body-to-part can be restored and renewed. The God who calls us to life together can work through each of us to nurture that life for the spiritual health of the individual parts as well as the vitality and well-being of the body that we know as a local congregation, and also an integral part of the larger church.

We can experience the joys of a body restored, renewed and made whole by the Lord of Life.

Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.