Eucharist and the Mystical Body
Back to the Source and Summit.
We were discussing suffering and the Eucharist, and this lead us to examine anew the Mystical Body of Christ and our participation in It. This is the crux of everything, the point that makes sense of everything else – that we are IN Christ, and Christ is IN us.
“…that they all may be one as You, Father, in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us… And the glory which You have given to Me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as We also are one: I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one…that the love wherewith You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them…” (John 17)
My head spins with these words, because there is a lifetime of meditation here, and if we can get our minds around the truth of it, it transforms everything we do.
These were Christ’s words before He gave us His very Body and Blood to sustain us after His sacrificial death. He explained the mystery of the Mystical Body, described our oneness in Love, His identification with us and our incorporation in Him (we are “sons in the Son”). And then He fed us with Himself – became one with us physically, as a bridegroom becomes one with his bride. He gives Himself to us fully in love, invites us to open ourselves fully to Him, and we become one Body – one with Him, one with each other (we all partake of the “one loaf,” as St Paul puts it), one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, as we participate in the intimate life of the Trinity.
We are tabernacles of the Trinity.
We are in God, God is in us. Allow me to condense the whole of theology in one dense paragraph:
In every moment, God is acting, His plan is being fulfilled, His work is being done. His action is always love (we see this as mercy and forgiveness on earth) and His work is to draw all things to Himself in love. The Son became man, the Second Adam, to re-do what had been un-done, to restore man to his intended dignity, and to identify Himself with our weakness so that Christ may be all in all. Christ is all, we can do nothing without Him, we must put on Christ and submit our wills to His so that He can continue to act in the world, and so that we may become UNUM QUID
– one entity, the Mystical Body of Christ come to full stature. And as we are all one in the Body, what we do to the least of these, and to the greatest, we do to Christ.
It is all Christ.
We are oned with God; we are alive by the breath of God. If God stopped “breathing” us, we would cease to be. Everything we do is participation in the life of God, who is intimately connected with our life. What we do, we do IN GOD.
Our understanding of this should change our understanding of our deliberate choices - sin becomes not just a "rejection of the rules" or "something I do by myself for myself" but a real interruption in the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ. Every selfish choice prevents Christ from participating in that action, and effectively prevents Him from acting in the world in that moment. Our pride and sin can disrupt the process of God’s action and prevent His will from being done fully in us and through us at that particular intersection of time and space. Every act contrary to the will of God cannot be shared by Christ, is not part of the life of His Body, and therefore has no real value.
And yet (one of those paradoxical mysteries of God that are hidden from our understanding in this life), Christ Himself has redeemed the whole world, and has somehow "made good" every wrong. Somehow, even our sins can be made to bring glory to Him, or He would not have allowed sin to be. And of course, He loves us and died for us "while we were yet sinning," so our sin does not diminish His absolute and unwavering - unwavering!
- love for us.
So in an ultimate and real sense, our sins do not disrupt His Plan, because He has allowed for our sin too, which is the mind-boggling part of this meditation. EVEN THOUGH we sin and disrupt His plan, His plan is not disrupted; He's already allowed for our sinfulness and selfishness and woundedness. He's already become the Second Adam, undoing the worst thing that was ever done, redeeming all of creation, so that whatever is done now easily finds its remedy in His death and resurrection.
Yet Christ taught us to pray "Thy will be done," so that we would learn to conform our wills to the Father's, as He did. If there were no possibility that God's will could be disrupted, we would not have to pray that His will would be done. Our will CAN be (and often is) opposed to God's, in which case we are not allowing God to act fully. Christ "came to do the will of the Father," which implies that He had a will of His own, which He actively conformed to the Father's - "not my will, but Yours be done." This is our prayer as well, and insofar as we are able to let Christ reign in us and submit our wills to His, He will be free to act in us and through us in the world.
So in one of those ineffable awe-some paradoxes of God, we might say that even though our sins evade God or oppose Him or disrupt the unity of His Body or offend Him or prevent Him from acting fully through us, His will is always done. He's already allowed for our brokenness and weakness, He already knows what will happen, and so His Plan continues to unfold and His will is done.
Yet in the practical milieu of everyday choices, it is helpful for me to consider that my choices are not about the best thing FOR God, but the best thing IN God.If I had more time to think and pray and write, I might make these reflections more organized and maybe even clearer. But you are forgiving, and the discussions here often clarify (when I don’t scramble everything), so I’m posting this and relying on the Holy Spirit, as usual ;-)