1 Corinthians 12:12-27
If there is one thing this COVID-19 virus pandemic teaches us is that the world is totally interrelated. No one stands alone in our world. No one is immune from the effects of other people or other things. We are all in this (and most other things) together. Unfortunately, Americans are not comfortable with this. We are supposed to “stand on our own two feet,” to “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps,” to “neither a borrower nor lender be.” In short, we value individualism over community. This is why so many of us disregard the 6-foot distance advice and assemble in larger than healthful numbers. We are either ignorant of the negative impact we can have on others or just don’t care.
This brings me to what I think is the greatest value that the church can bring to our world. At its best, a congregation is a group of people who live for the sake of one another and the world. This is precisely the model the world needs, not only in times of distress, but at all times. Taking Paul’s understanding of the body of Christ (a congregation) as an integrated unit where all are needed to enrich the whole, and no one part is optional or to be disregarded, we live this out in plain sight. At least, we should. What is the effect? Well, in the early centuries of the church, it “turned the world upside down,” to such an extent that the Roman Empire was substantially converted.
No church, I believe, reaches this all the time. Most come close on occasion. Think for a moment about memorial services. The outpouring of love and compassion on the bereaved is a remarkable thing. We are certainly capable of living this out over long stretches of time. The questions I have for us are Am I living out my commitment to the body of Christ as well as I can? What might I do to assist others to live this out in their lives? The place to begin is to recognize that God wishes us to grow into this. I think we need to focus less about our individual prerogatives and become more concerned about the lives of others. What do you think?
PRAYER by Fr. Michael Graham, S.J.
O God of all peoples, places, and events. We know you are with us in this time of distress. Help us learn to live for the sake of one another. May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake. May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable. May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health and making their rent. May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options. May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go. May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all. May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country, let us choose love.
And during this time when we may not be able to physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors. Amen.