|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One Body of Christ
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 24, 2016
Growing up in Ireland, I used to play several different team sports, among them rugby. Rugby it is a sport that is not played all over the world but it has now become quite popular here in the U.S. It is evident when one plays rugby that one cannot win the game on their own; it is self evident that if one holds onto the ball to long they will just get pummeled. This is pretty much true of every team sport. There are times it is very clear that our teammate is not having a good day. We have to work with them and double our effort to help them on those days.
Some sports recognize this reality and report achievements differently. In ice hockey for example, those who assist get credit; in fact, there are two assists—not just one. Those statistics are recorded for every player: number of goals, number of assists and second assists.
Life is also a team sport. We need others to not only thrive but to survive —the first team we play on is the family team. We grow to maturity within the family. Life has never been and never will be an individual sport.
We live in a highly individualized and secular society that promotes the pursuit of one’s own happiness to the exclusion of all others. Society tries to tell us we are completely on our own and we live and die as individuals. That is just simply not a healthy way of life. We win or we lose together.
As a church we believe strongly that life is a team sport. We believe that we are saved individually, but we also are saved communally. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he speaks eloquently about how we are all members of the same Body of Christ. It is very evident that when one part of our body hurts, we all hurt. When our toes hurt–even our tiny little toe–it seems like our whole body is hurting.
Paul’s letter, consequentially the Catholic Church, emphasizes this and it holds true for the wider Church; we are in this together. We are not just one parish community there are fifty-four other parishes in our diocese that are in this together. We also build up this local community not just the Catholic community but the local community of San Jose and the Bay Area; we build up the whole community by our presence. We are in it together.
Our society is terrible for bringing opposing positions; for example, Democrats can do absolutely nothing right in the eyes of the Republicans and Republicans can do absolutely nothing right in the eyes of the Democrats. As Church, we live a different reality. We claim that it does not matter whether you are a Democrat or a Republican; whether you are liberal or conservative; whether you are a progressive or traditionalist, we are one Church called to build up the One Body of Christ in the world; to be a self-evident community of love that brings Christ’s presence alive in our world.We are called to be that living presence of Christ today.