Tag Archives: Body of Christ

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

“The Parable of the Mustard Seed”
A reflection on Matthew 13:31-32
Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

Matthew 13:31-32

The word “universe” in this couplet stands for “flesh” (Hebrew basar and Greek sarx), as used in the Genesis Flood account and in John’s Prologue. All “flesh” is destroyed in the flood and saved in the ark in the recreation of the world after the Fall (Genesis 6:13; 17; 19). With the coming of Christ, a new “beginning,” the Word became “flesh,” divinizing humanity and the cosmos (John 1:14). The Holy Spirit conceived the Word as a microscopic seed in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and continues to nurture and expand the Mystical Body of Christ throughout the world.

Pigs and the Resurrection

Healing of the Gerasene Demoniac

4th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday (Year I)

Hebrews 11:32-40; Mark 5:1-20

What more shall I say? I have not time to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises; they closed the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped the devouring sword; out of weakness they were made powerful, became strong in battle, and turned back foreign invaders. Women received back their dead through resurrection. Some were tortured and would not accept deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawed in two, put to death at sword’s point; they went about in skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, tormented. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and on mountains, in caves and in crevices in the earth.

Hebrews 11:32-38

Heroes of the Old Testament roll out of the book of Hebrews like a soul-stirring litany. True tales of the valiant men and women of old shaped the heart and character of the nation of Israel. Listeners of this rallying cry to faith and perseverance would have connected instantly with the named and unnamed preservers of their ancient covenant with God.

The journey to the promised land has never been paved with ease, the forerunners of Christ show. From stories of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being burned alive by King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3) to the wise old Eleazar who was tortured for refusing to forsake his religion before Greek authorities (2 Maccabees 6:18-31), Israel’s heroes proved themselves worthy of the Christ for whom they waited. 

Many Jewish Christians teetered on the brink of apostasy as lukewarmness and acedia threatened to pull them away from following Christ. Loss of property and friends (Hebrews 10:32-34) became a source of discouragement and disillusionment with the crucified Messiah (2:1; 4:14; 6:1-12; 10:23-32). 

Resurrection is mentioned four times in this chapter, with reference to Enoch, Abraham and Isaac, mothers whose sons were raised from the dead by Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:32-37), and those who “were tortured and would not accept deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35). 

The message is clear: the holy ones of the Old and New Covenants looked forward to a heavenly homeland and inheritance not of this world. Neither Jesus nor the Prophets ever preached a health and wealth (prosperity) Gospel. 

That may partially explain why Jesus allowed a “legion” of demons to rush into a herd of pigs in the Gerasenes (Mark 5:11-13). The tortured, demon-possessed man raving in the tombs—an image of the human race enslaved to the devil—was set free by Jesus to the upset of the townspeople. Property and possessions ranked higher than God and neighbor. 

The animals sacrificed for the healed demoniac drowned in the sea, leaving a frightening picture of the power of evil. It was a foreshadowing of Christ on the Cross. In order to free Adam from the power of sin, death, and the devil, “Legion” rushed into Christ on the Cross. However, the Son of God plunged into the sea of his Father’s love and rose with an immortal body. Sin, death, and the devil lay vanquished by their own fatal blow. 

Jesus has risen and taken the earth (including plants and animals) with him. 

The Church… will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1042

We join the saints past, present and future as one Body of Christ in the glory and joy of the Blessed Trinity.

Yet all these, though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised. God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect.

Hebrews 11:39-40


The Bread of Christ

bread wine
Besides being one body, the Body of Christ, we are also one Bread in him. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we listen first to God’s word and then offer bread and wine. The prayer over the bread points to its meaning:

“Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you; fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.”

We receive the bread, “fruit of the earth and work of human hands,” from our Creator. St. Augustine calls the bread we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer and the bread we offer at Mass “the bread of everything.” The gift of everything is acknowledged at Mass through the bread and wine; we’re blessed with everything, we’re reminded, and through them, we give thanks to the God of goodness for it all. “What do you have that you have not received?”

The greatest of God’s blessings is Jesus Christ who, on the night before he died took bread into his hands, the “bread of everything,” and gave himself to his disciples through this sign. “Take and eat, this is my body which will be given up for you.” In a similar way, he gave them the cup of wine that signifies his blood “poured out” for us.

“Do this in memory of me,” he said.

A mystery of faith, we say in our prayer. We believe through these signs. We can’t let their humble circumstances– the place, the people, the simple acts and words dissuade us. We’re called to wonder at what’s hidden here.

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,

Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,

See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart

Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:

How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;

What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;

Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,

Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:

Both are my confession, both are my belief,

And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,

But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;

Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,

Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,

Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,

Lend this life to me then:
feed and feast my mind,

There be thou the sweetness
man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;

Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran—

Blood whereof a single drop has power to win

All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,

I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,

Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light

And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight. Amen.

(translation of Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.)

The Body of Christ

body of Christ
“We, though many, are one Body in Christ
and individually parts of one another.” {Romans 12,5-16}

St. Paul often uses the term “Body of Christ” to describe the union of Jesus with his followers. Those who follow Jesus are never isolated, self-sufficient individuals, sent off on their own. They’re united with him and with one another, and the gifts each has are to be shared with all.

Paul offers a lists of these gifts in the Letter to the Romans, read today at Mass:

“if prophecy, in proportion to the faith;
if ministry, in ministering;
if one is a teacher, in teaching;
if one exhorts, in exhortation;
if one contributes, in generosity;
if one is over others, with diligence;
if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

We may see one or other of these gifts in ourselves, but we also need to see them in others too. The danger in our individualistic age is to not recognize our dependence on others and look at someone and think: “I don’t need you,” or “I’m more important than you.” Being in the “Body of Christ” means we need each other.

In Christ

What does that mean when we say we are “in Jesus Christ,”  when we pray “through Jesus Christ,” when we say we are “the body of Christ?”  Here’s Blessed Isaac of Stella from today’s Office of Readings:

“What Jesus, the Son of God, is by generation, his members are by adoption, according to the text: As children you have received the Spirit of adoption, enabling you to cry, Abba, Father.

“Through his Spirit, Jesus gave us the power to become children of God, so that all those he has chosen might be taught by the firstborn among many brothers and sisters to say: Our Father, who are in heaven. Again he says elsewhere: I ascend to my Father and to your Father.

“By the Spirit, from the womb of the Virgin, was born our head, the Son of Man; and by the same Spirit, in the waters of baptism, we are reborn as his body and as children of God. And just as he was born without any sin, so we are reborn in the forgiveness of all our sins. As on the cross he bore the sum total of the whole body’s sins in his own physical body, so he gave his members the grace of rebirth in order that no sin might be imputed to his mystical body. It is written: Blessed is the one to whom the Lord imputes no guilt for sin.

“The ‘blessed one’ of this text is undoubtedly Christ. Insofar as God is his head, Christ forgives sins. Insofar as the head of the body is one, there is no sin to forgive; and insofar as the body that belongs to this head consists of many members, there is sin indeed, but it is forgiven and no guilt is imputed.

“ In himself he is just: it is he who justifies himself. He alone is both Saviour and saved. In his own body on the cross he bore what he had washed from his body by the waters of baptism. Bringing salvation through wood and through water, he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world which he took upon himself. Himself a priest, he offers himself as sacrifice to God, and he himself is God. Thus, through his own self, the Son is reconciled to himself as God, as well as to the Father and to the Holy Spirit.”