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January 1989

We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Rom. 12:5)

St Paul wishes to correct a tendency which is always ready to waylay Christian communities. It is a tendency to self-importance, to spiritual self-satisfaction, to conceit, ambition and the desire to dominate. St Paul uses the image of the body as a corrective: Christians form one body in Christ, and Christ through his spirit has united Christians to himself and with one another so as to form one body.

This image already used by him in other letters is especially suited to emphasising the gifts of grace that each person possesses' in the Christian community. Each of us has a personal role in the Church and for this role has received a particular gift, and when we place our gift at the service of the Church then we are enriched by the gifts of our brothers and sisters.

We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

If we all form one body and our gifts are complementary, the members of the community should have great respect for one another. If each of us has a mission to fulfil for the common good, this mission should be carried out in such a way as to foster unity and the harmonious growth of all the Christian community. This should leave no room for pride, individualism etc.

We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

St Paul is telling us how the Church should be in order to respond to the call and the deepest wishes of her Teacher: a community in which Jesus is the true head, the true guide. This will come about if its members are detached from themselves, from their own particular projects and are inspired by humility and mutual love. As a result Jesus can use all the community as a whole and each of its members in particular in order to carry out his plans for salvation.

We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

How should we live the Word of life this month?

The first way is to carry out the responsibility we have been given, with the new spirit St Paul has described. We should remember that each of us is an instrument of Jesus who has received a special grace, which will be expressed more effectively the more we will live in the spirit of service towards our brothers which cannot be practised fully without detachment from ourselves and without humility.

This month we celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, so another way of living the Word of Life could be to ask God for the gift of his Spirit so that all Christians belonging to the different Churches may live out their one baptism fully, even though they are not yet in full communion. Our prayer could also be that all Christians may bring to life or foster, with prayers and deeds, a current of charity between brothers and sisters of different Churches, so that the hour of full communion among all will draw nearer.

Chiara Lubich

 

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