We are the Body of Christ
“We are the Body of Christ”
Bishop Octavio Salvador Tarraya
Feast of Corpus Christi
May 29, 2016
Readings: 1 Kings 8:22-23, 27-30, 41-43; Psalm 96:1-9
Today is the feast of Corpus Christi. Corpus in Latin means “body”. Today is the feast of the Body of Christ. Today is the feast of the Church.
The Church is our only refuge. After a week of battling various problems – illness in the family, financial lack, discord in the family or with friends and many others – come Sunday, we set aside all these worries so that we can be in the presence of the Lord and get the peace and strength that we need. We ask ourselves today, what is reality for us – the weeklong worries and struggling or being with the Church, with God and the Body of Christ? The Church, the Body is where we get our strength to face a week of challenges. This should be our reality. We invoke the presence of the Lord when we’re together as His Body. God made it easy for us to be in His presence. This small room where we are gathered is now the Church because the Church is where the Body is.
The principles of God don’t change; they will remain for all eternity. The enemy does not have principles; it only distorts the principles of God to suit its purposes and deceive people. Here are some important principles of God that we must keep in mind:
1. Everything that God created and did when He was on earth was meant to establish principles that will serve us guidelines for living. Jesus prayed for, healed and ministered to people to meet their needs, and spent time with them. Today, as ministers, we should do the same and be with people in fellowship. This is where God is – in the midst of the Body coming together in fellowship. We should, therefore, help anyone who comes to us with a need and go the extra mile by seeking the lost and hurting to give them comfort.
2. The Church is divine. Because it is the Body of Christ and God is in its midst, the Church is an essential part of the Trinity. Because the Holy Spirit is in us, we, as the Church, are the instruments by which God can reach out in love to this hurting world. In God’s system, the latter is always greater than the former. The glory of these latter days will be greater than the former days. The second Adam is greater than the first. The Church today, the “latter” Church, is greater than the first Church – Israel because it is this Church that Jesus calls His Body. What does this tell us today? When people see the Church/the Body, they should see God.
John 10:9-16 “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.”
“I am the door….they will become ONE flock with ONE shepherd.” The flock is the Church; Christ is the door. He is one with the Body; therefore, the way to Christ is through the Body. We can’t do it alone, separated from the Body. Pope Francis said “you can’t love Christ without loving the Church”.
The prophecies about Christ all came true. It was foretold that a savior would come; Christ came on Christmas. He revealed Himself in Epiphany. He gave His life when He was crucified; then He rose again in the resurrection. Forty days later He ascended into heaven. Ten days later came the Pentecost, with the Holy Spirit coming down to dwell in us and give us power. After this came Trinity Sunday to tell us that God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – the Trinity – are with us. All of these events were programmed and timed perfectly. There’s a purpose for each event. We need the Holy Spirit to overcome the world. No evil shall befall us because evil can’t co-exist with the Holy Spirit who now resides in our hearts.
Today we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. We are the Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ. As such, we are seated with Christ and the Father in heaven, even while we are still here on earth, in the physical realm. The Church is the people, not the building. Think about it – nothing and no one can change this world except the Church. This is our mission – to change the world. God ransomed us, not with money, but with the blood of His Son. We, as Christ’s Body, can ransom the world with our love and time. We are not like the hireling Jesus refers to in John 10 who, when he sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep and flees. We serve and minister to people, not for material gain, but out of a deep love for God and His people; just as we were ransomed with the greatest love of all.
Our Church today is like a new Church, given new life. This Church is greater than what it used be. But until we believe this we won’t see it. We create and change things always for a greater purpose. The Church may be small in number when it gathers, but its impact on the world around it should be great. It should transform the world so that the world can reflect the glory of God.
There are many things that happen that we don’t understand, but we are not to question them. Some very sad events come into our lives, and when they do, we shouldn’t blame ourselves for them or think that they happen because of sins we have committed. We have all sinned, but God’s love and mercy are always greater than our sins. We always trust Him, trust His deep, abiding love for us, even if we hurt and experience immense pain. Our confidence is in knowing that He will turn things around and restore our joy.
The Church is here to stay. The glory of this latter Church is greater than the former, in line with the principle that the latter is always greater than the former. We are closer to salvation than when we first believed.