Paul likened an ideal church community to a human body in which, without envy or discord, the fingers, lungs, ears and innards coordinate smoothly in all the body’s healthy activities.
Like, now, in composing this homily I put my body at ease in a swivel chair, while my fingers hunt and peck over the keyboard, putting down the sentences my memory and imagination put together for them. So, Paul said, our teachers, healers, leaders and students should be working together as part of Christ’s body working for the good of mankind.
We can go wrong in either of thinking of ourselves just as individuals or in thinking of ourselves only as parts of a group. During the nineteen fifties and sixties when I lived in a Korean town I was struck by the way people seldom used the first person singular pronoun.
Kids would say things like: “Our dad wouldn’t believe that,” or “We don’t like Japanese cooking, “ or “Our family has a lawyer.” I couldn’t get any individual to speak for himself or herself. The whole family could share the happiness of having one beautiful girl or one clever boy.
By contrast, America is the most going-it-alone country there ever was. Everyone has to make a name for himself or herself. If they lacked an individual claim to fame they would need to create one by dying their hair or emblazing a tattoo.
We need more group awareness.
The Church has at times gone too far in claiming to do all the thinking for us. That was the case in an encyclical of Pope Pius X when he wrote.
The Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, it is a society comprising two categories of persons, the Pastors and the flock. . . so distinct are these categories that with the pastoral body alone rests the necessary right and authority of promoting the end of the society, directing all its members toward that end; the only duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and like a docile flock, to follow the pastors.
I humbly disagree. We will need to come individually before God’s judgment seat, and Pope Pius X will not be with us to share the credit or blame.