St. Paul offers us a wonderful image of the Christian community: a body. We are all together a body. Each of us is a different part. Not everybody can be the foot. Or the hand or the head. Somebody has to be the butt. But each part is important and all are necessary. We work together as a body must, and what concerns one part concerns the rest. You know, Mother Teresa once said that every problem in the world, every sin, every war–it happens because we forget that we belong to each other. We forget we are part of a body, that we are attached to everybody else and what hurts one person hurts everybody, including ourselves We forget that we are not on our own. We are part of something greater, and we are connected.
What does it mean that we, the human race, belong to one another?
I think it means four things. Now these are things I’ve been thinking of after our trip to DC. As you know, Patty and I took a bus of 50 young folks to DC for the March for Life. We were able to take part in some of the events but not the march itself. The weather was too bad. We beat it on our way back, but not by much. In any event, it was an awesome and very worthwhile experience.
Because we belong to each other–we body parts–we must do at least these four things for one another.
DREG = We must: Defend. Respect. Enjoy. Give life.
First, we must DEFEND one another. My eyelid automatically closes when there is a perceived attack. My arms rise automatically when something is threatening my face. Our bodies are like that. Well, so is the body that is the human race. When a vulnerable part is threatened or stands in need of protection, the rest of the body must rise to protect. You know, the Church has always been on the frontlines of defending life and the sanctity that is due it. We were the first to outlaw segregation. Now the biggest civil rights issue of our day is abortion. When we see the most innocent life attacked, the rest of the body (us) are obliged to do something about it. We cannot be content to let it go.
Second, we RESPECT one another. To respect is to look again. To respect the life of an unborn child is to recognize that it is a child, not a fetus or an embryo or whatever other word. We look again at it and realize that it is a person. And then we treasure it. The Church has always respected the underdogs. Jesus did. Babies, the unclean, the unlearned, the difficult, the poor, the diseased, the unborn–it is these parts of the body that the rest of us are duty bound to respect…whcih is to say we look again at them and appreciate them and treat them for what they are: children of the Lord.
Third, we ENJOY one another. There is good reason that we Catholics are known for our ability to have a good time. Because what God has given us on earth is good. You know, our bus–we probably spent 20 some odd hours on that bus. Nobody complained. Nobody read a book either, or watched a movie. We were all enjoying one another’s presence and friendship. In fact, I got to wondering how different that bus would have been if even ONE of those people weren’t there. We have good kids at this parish. You should know that. We are meant to enjoy one another, to enjoy life. We couldn’t go to the actual march so we went bowling for life, laser tagging for life, go carting for life. And in all that, we reverenced the beauty of life in a different kind of way. And it was beautiful.
Fourth, we GIVE life to one another. All body parts serve one another. My mouth serves to bring nourishment to my stomach. My stomach disperses nutrients that strengthen my muscles. Every body part is at the service of the others, at the service of the overall body and its health, and all are seeking its growth. Growth is the best sign of life. Every word we say and everything we do, it ought to be uplifting the others in the body, it ought to be giving htem life. Not tearing them down.
So today, we thank our God for the gift of life. We thank God for his allowing us all to be part of the body of Christ. We thank him that we all belong to one another. And, because we belong to one another, we ask that we can always defend, respect, enjoy, and give life to one another. Even the unborn.