26 October - Image of the Church as the ‘Grapevine’
From the two Pauline images of the Church [as a Building and as The Body of Christ] I want to move to a beautiful image given to us by Jesus - that of the Grapevine - Jn15:1-8

Before I write a few comments I invite you this week to stay with the Word of God - the text. If there is any place we can profit by reading and reflecting on a few lines of the Gospel each day, as Pope Francis encourages us to do, it is truly here with these rich words of Jesus. I invite you to do just that - in Lectio Divina fashion - or after the example of Mary who ‘pondered these things in her heart’.

19 October - Your part in the Body of the Church
To conclude on the reflection of the Church as the Body of Christ please read 1 Cor 12:27-30.

Have you ever wondered what your part in, or role or calling was within the Body of the Church. St Terese of Lisieux did and I would like to share her discovery by quoting direct from her autobiography. I am sure I am not breaking any copyright by doing this!

‘I was still being tormented by this question of unfulfilled longings for martyrdom and it was a distraction in my prayer, when I decided to consult Saint Paul’s epistles in the hope of getting an answer. It was the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of First Corinthians that claimed my attention. The first of these told me that we can’t all of us be apostles, all of us be prophets, all of us doctors, and so on; the Church is composed of members which differ in their use; the eye is one thing and the hand is another. It was a clear enough answer, but it didn’t satisfy my aspirations, didn’t set my heart at rest. Reading on to the end of the chapter, I met this comforting phrase: ‘Prize the best gifts of heaven. Meanwhile, I can show you a way which is better than any other.’ What was it? The apostle goes on to explain that all the gifts of heaven, even the most perfect of them, without love, are absolutely nothing; charity is the best way of all, because it leads straight to God. Now I was at peace; when Saint Paul was talking about the different members of the mystical body I couldn’t recognise myself in all of them. But charity - that was the key to my vocation. If the Church was a body composed of different members, it couldn’t lack the noblest of all; it must have a heart, and a heart burning with love. And I realised that this love was the true motive force which enabled the other members of the Church to act; if it ceased to function the apostles would forget to preach the gospel, the martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. Love, in fact, is the vocation which includes all others; it’s a universe of its own, comprising all time and space - it’s eternal. Beside myself with joy, I cried out: ‘Jesus, my love! I’ve found my vocation, and my vocation is love.’ I had discovered where it is that I belong in the Church, the niche God has appointed for me. To be nothing else than love, deep down in the heart of the Mother Church; that’s to be everything at once - my dream wasn’t a dream after all.’

12 October - Church as the Body of Christ Pt2
I trust that last week you were able to read and reflect on 1 Cor 12:12-26 on St Paul’s analogy of the Church as the Body of Christ. It bears a lot of reflection. Here are a few of my simple ones.

Vs 12-13: Paul only mentions Jews as well as Greeks who were the main ones at the time. Nowadays there are so many nationalities in the Church. We have many of them in our own congregations, each bringing their gifts to Australia and our Church. They have many gifts, especially of Faith and culture.

Vs 14-16: The foot or ear cannot say that they don’t belong to the body. St Pauls says, as we all know, that they do. Likewise in our Church it is sad for us when members of our body don’t come or don’t for various reasons belong. It is a good motivation for us to belong as strongly as we can and to treat such people with love. Our open attitude to them and relationship with them over the years may be the Grace they need to attract them back to, and even more deeply, to the Body of Christ, the Church.

Vs  17: Just as the eye or ear cannot be the whole of the body, as St Pauls says, we also know that we cannot be everything in the Body of Christ. We need all the different members to be a functional and healthy Church.

Vs 18 -20: While there are many parts to our human body we know that they all form just the one body. It is the same with the Church. Our differences don’t mean that we are separate and can go it alone. No these differences complement one another. When working in harmony the Church is a real strength.

Vs 21: So we certainly do need one another in the Church. If we think we don’t then we are deluded and if we try to live like that our Church is very handicapped.

No wonder at each Mass, and so millions of times a day, after the Our Father we pray for unity and peace in our Church. A united and strong Church will most effectively preach the Gospel and wondrously share the Joy of the Gospel.

Vs 22 - 25: How important in our Church is the need to be concerned for, and treat well, the weakest members of the Body. Jesus did - the poor, the sinner, the outcast, the ones who were frowned upon by others and society generally.

Vs 26: This speaks to us of the importance of sharing peoples sorrows and joys in the Church. The human body does it naturally.

5th October - Church as the Body of Christ

It is St Paul who gives us this practical and very understandable image of the Church as the Body of Christ. Jesus is the Head and we are the members.

This is a very different but complementary image of the Church. It is much more connected though than a building. In fact the body wonderfully created by God is brilliantly and organically connected!

I think we can do no better than to go to St Paul himself this week and read reflectively 1 Cor 12:12-26.

We could even do a few verses each day - stopping where it is appropriate and praying and seeing what practical application to our lives we could make.

These 'Thoughts' are a continuation of a particular theme - Click here to view previous 'Thoughts for the Week'