The Body of Christ

Community

The Body of Christ
Sunday, April 17, 2016

The template of all reality is Trinity: “Let us create [humanity] in our own image,” the creation story says (Genesis 1:26). God is essentially shared life, life in relationship. In the beginning is relationship, we might say. Within the Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit perfectly love and are perfectly loved. We come to know who God is through exchanges of mutual knowing and loving. [1]

God’s basic method of communicating God’s self is not the “saved” individual, the rightly informed believer, or even personal careers in ministry, but the journey and bonding process that God initiates in community: in marriages, families, tribes, nations, events, scientists, and churches who are seeking to participate in God’s love, maybe without even consciously knowing it.

The body of Christ is our Christian metaphor for this bonding. It seems to be God’s strategy and God’s leaven inside the dough of creation. It is both the medium and the message. It is both the beginning and the goal: “May they all be one . . . so the world may believe it was you who sent me . . . that they may be one as we are one, with me in them and you in me” (see John 17:21, 23).

Thomas Merton writes, “The Christian is not merely ‘alone with the Alone’ in the Neoplatonic sense, but he is One with all his ‘brothers [and sisters] in Christ.’ His inner self is, in fact, inseparable from Christ and hence it is in a mysterious and unique way inseparable from all the other ‘I’s’ who live in Christ, so that they all form one ‘Mystical Person,’ which is ‘Christ.’” [2]

There is no other form for the Christian life except a common one. Until and unless Christ is experienced as a living relationship between people, the Gospel remains largely an abstraction. Until Christ is passed on personally through faithfulness and forgiveness, through concrete bonds of union, I doubt whether he is passed on by words, sermons, institutions, or ideas.

Gateway to Silence:
We are one in the Spirit.

References:
[1] This will be the subject of my next book, The Divine Dance, on the mystery of Trinity, coming later this year.

[2] Thomas Merton, The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation (Harper San Francisco: 2003), 22.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Near Occasions of Grace (Orbis Books: 1993), 49-51.

Image Credit: Sharing a Meal by alfonsejaved
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