Posted by Paul Edwards (Fr. Paul) on Jan 17, 2013 | Comments (0)

Third Sunday After Epiphany

Bottom Line Spirituality: Worldly and Godly Thinking

Click here to go to the Bottom Line Meditations for The Third Sunday After Epiphany

Godly Abiding Spiritually in Jesus Changes the Meaning of What we See Worldly When Not Abiding in Jesus.

Spirituality is our innate ability to feel the difference worldly or godly thinking makes to the way scripture translates to our daily life and relationships.

1 Corinthians 12: 12-31You are the body of Christ

“Just as a body, though one has many parts, but all it’s many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  We were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

It would be hard for a Christian to read St. Paul’s writings and not know we, as the Church, are the Body of Christ. Yet, St. Paul is the only New Testament writer who makes the statement that we are His Body. We are the only Religion that believes this. The Hebrews do not believe they are the body of Moses. The Muslims do not believe they are the body of Mohammed. The Buddhists do not believe they are the body of Buddha.

What did the body of Christ mean to Paul and where did he get it? It is found in the Book of Acts three times: Acts 9:5, Acts 22:6 and Acts 26:12.

Paul tells the story that “about noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute Me?’ ‘Who are you Lord?’ I asked. And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting: it is hard for you to kick against the pricks.'”

In those days they had to break in a jackass that would dangerously kick out at anyone. They would put a basket like contraption about its neck and over its rear end. At the end were two pricks (spikes) embedded in the basket and pointed at the backside of the jackass. People would gather to see the sight. The jackass would kick stretching its body with its forelegs entrenched in the ground and its hind legs spread up in the air. The pricks would cut into the backside. It would infuriate the jackass who again and again would kick out, goaded on by the laughing crowd. Finally exhausted, bruised and bleeding it would have to stop kicking against the pricks.

Jesus was using this as an illustration of what Paul looked like when he was following the law by judging others. The same goes for us. When we finally stop kicking against the spikes, we open ourselves to the grace of God.

This can be a reminder to us. It is like when we are out of the grace and in the law, kicking against the spikes. We come to the point to realizing the difference it makes when we surrender our judging of others and open our hearts to live in the Grace and Love of God.

The question Paul asked is the clue to the Body of Christ. Paul knew the Lord when he encountered Him. “Who are you Lord?” he asked. “I am Jesus who you are persecuting.”  It flashed into Paul’s mind to say, “Lord I am not persecuting you. I am persecuting the Church.” That was proceeded by a huge, “O.M.G.”  The Church he was persecuting was the body of Christ!

We persecute the body of Christ by our judgment of others both in our parish, our denomination, and the Church Universal. Paul spells out that kicking against the pricks is thinking, “I do not belong to that Body.” The fact is, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. There are many parts, but one body.  The parts of the body should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

And Paul, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what will you have me to do?” And the Lord said to him, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told to you what you must do." Acts 22:10

Paul could not do what God was calling Him to do until he was willing to stop kicking out in judgment against the body of Christ. Neither can we do what God is calling us to do until we stop the judgment of others, no matter who they may be.

Who do you need to stop kicking against and start listening to?


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