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Persecuting Who?

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persecuting-who

“Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.” ~ Voltaire

In today’s 1st Reading (Acts 9:1-20), we revisit Paul’s conversion at the hands of Jesus, a blinding light from the sky dramatically toppling the man who was soon to be the former Christian terrorist once known as Saul. The imagery of the Mystical Body of Christ is revealed in Jesus’ words to the stunned and shaken sojourner from Tarsus when the Son of God asks him “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Jesus’ question was in direct reference to the stoning of Saint Stephen at the hands of the angry Jewish mob, spearheaded by nine other than Saul. The quote chosen to kick off today’s Reflection is in fact almosttoo appropriate in light of the fate that befell Saint Stephen, the Protomartyr of our Church https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Feast-of-Saint-Stephen-First-Martyr.

The Mystical Body of Christ doctrine teaches us that the Church ~ you, me, and all it’s members throughout time ~ is a mystical union or spiritual body, with Jesus as the head of this body. This is why Jesus asks Saul “Why are you persecuting me” in reference to Stephen’s murder. For good reason, it would be none other than Saint Paul himself who would go on to evangelize and write about the Church in the context of Christ’s Mystical Body on a number of occasions (Romans 12:5,1 Corinthians 12:12–27, Ephesians 3:6, 4:15-16 and 5:23 Colossians 1:18 and 1:24). In more recent years, this teaching became one of the hallmarks of the Papacy of Pope Pius XII https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Mystici-Corporis-Christi-Revisited.

The more one delves into the Gospels and for that matter the 28 chapters that comprise the new Testament Book authored by Saint Luke and appropriately titled the Acts of the Apostles, it becomes more and more evident that these passages are fundamentally focused, almost obsessed, with the unity of human society. In these most recent Easter Days we’ve read about the early days of our Church by way of the passages culled from Acts, days they were no doubt exciting yet at times overwhelming and even scary for those who were living in them https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Holding-On-Versus-Going-Forth. It is in these passages that we see the first Christian Communities beginning to form, a true sense of communal love and brotherhood serving as the glue which would hold it together.

Satan on the other hand divides, leveraging the tried-and-true tactics that have been so useful to him over the course of history such as war, divorce and racism while sprinkling in an occasional new wrinkle ~ the mainstream cable news onslaught comes to mind ~ so as to beguile and distract us from our true mission; to evangelize each member of Christ’s Mystical Body. To lift each other up so that we may all see the good in ourselves and in turn use those God-given gifts to evangelize others. It is the Holy Spirit and the reality of the Eucharist ~ one bread, one body ~ which seeks to unite, or perhaps reunite, that which Satan has scattered.

Those who embrace their role as members of the mystical body of Christ quickly come to understand that this world is not their home. They are merely pilgrims on a journey, a journey designed to help them to understand and put into practice the perfect love that they will one day encounter and enjoy in what is to be their true home, the Heavenly Kingdom https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Of-Dwelling-Places-Heavenly-and-Otherwise . They understand the importance of caring for and protecting the other members of the body. They take the words of Matthew 25:35-40 to heart, realizing that feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and caring for, visiting, and praying for the sick and imprisoned is simply a way of life. To ignore these would be irresponsible, and to do so would be jeopardize one’s own salvation.

I leave you with an excerpt from a homily delivered by Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971) entitled The Dignity and Responsibility of Being a Christian, wherein Cardinal Bacci plumbs the depths of what it truly means to be a member of Christ’s Mystical Body:

“It is a great dignity to be a Christian. By Baptism, we become sons of God, heirs to Heaven, temples of the Holy Spirit and members of the Mystical Body of Jesus, which is the Church. God’s grace raises us to the supernatural order and makes us, as St Paul expresses it, sharers in the divine nature. The whole life of a Christian is a chain of favors which accompany him from the cradle to the grave. We should be grateful to God for the goodness with which he has treated us and continues to treat us. We should cooperate generously with his gifts by recognizing the lofty honor it is to be a Christian and by living in accordance with this dignity.”

Amen.

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