January 27, 2019 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause
January 27, 2019
Fr. George Smiga
Today’s second reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians might be one of the most challenging passages in the New Testament. It drops a bombshell. It does so because it addresses differences. The reading understands that we are different. We do not all have the same roles, the same talents, the same ideas, or the same dreams. We do not agree on what is the most important thing to do or how we should do it. We are many. It is only after Paul establishes this diversity that he drops the bomb. He says that although there are many parts, there is one body. And that body is the body of Christ.
What Paul is saying is that although it appears that we are isolated and different individuals, somehow through that diversity all of us are joined together in a living organism, and the living organism is Christ’s body. At first this might sound like poetry, but Paul is deadly serious. He insists that the way Christ is present in our world today is through a variety of different people joined together to create the Body of Christ. Here is where the challenge comes in. Although we are different, Paul forbids us from rejecting other people because they are different. He says, “The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you. The head cannot say to the feet, I have no need of you.” We cannot say these things because when we reject any person, we are rejecting a part of the body to which we ourselves belong. A rich person cannot say to a poor person, “I have no need of you.” A gay person cannot say to a straight person, “I have no need of you.” A citizen cannot say to an immigrant, “I have no need of you.” A Democrat cannot say to a Republican, “I have no need of you.” Even if someone has hurt us deeply, even if someone is our enemy, we cannot separate ourselves totally from that person because in doing that we are separating a part of the body to which we ourselves belong.
Now, of course, this does not mean that we have to agree with everyone, or trust everyone, or even like everyone. In fact, there are some circumstances where things become so hot that it only makes sense to break off contact with a person for a while. All of these strategies are possible and at times necessary. Paul is short on explaining how we get along with one another across so many differences. But what he demands is that we do not reject anyone because of those differences. If we together with others do in fact form the body of Christ, when we say to any person, “I have no need of you,” we are not only rejecting Christ, we are also rejecting a part of ourselves.