The Mystical Body of Christ
Presence of God– O Holy Spirit, grant that I may be rich with the “fullness of understanding, unto the knowledge of the mystery … of Christ Jesus” (Colossians 2:2).
“I am the vine; you, the branches.” On these words of Jesus, which describe our union with Him, the whole doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ is founded. Only the figure is changed: instead of the vine, we speak of the Body of which Christ is the Head and we are the members. In explaining this doctrine, St. Paul aptly paraphrases what Jesus had previously said. “As the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ…. Now you are the Body of Christ, and members of member” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 27).
The thought in both descriptions is evidently identical: as the branches are part of the vine on which they grow and from which they are nourished with one sap; as the parts of the human body form one body and have a single life; so we, being incorporated in Christ, make but one body with Him and live of His Life. This is the Mystical Body of Christ “which,” St. Paul teaches, “is the Church” (Colossians 1:24).
Christ is the Head of this Body. “Christ is the Head of the Church…. He is the Savior of the Body” (Ephesians 5:23). The Father “hath made Him Head over all the Church, which is His Body … and [His fullness]” (cf. Ephesians 1:22,23). One Body, one life which comes to each of its members from the Head. “Christ Our Lord vivifies the Church with His own supernatural life; by His divine power He permeates the whole Body and nourishes and sustains each of the members … very much as the vine nourishes and makes fruitful the branches which are joined to it” (Mystici Corporis [Venerable Pius XII]). The fact that every Christian has life in Christ and lives of the very life of Christ is reaffirmed in these words.
“O my beloved Spouse and loving Word, You engender the Body of the Holy Church in a way which You alone know and understand…. By means of Your Blood, You make a well-organized, well-formed Body of which You are the Head. The angels delight in its beauty, the archangels admire it, the seraphim are enraptured by it, all the angelic spirits marvel at it, and all the souls of the blessed in heaven rejoice in it. The Blessed Trinity takes delight in it in a manner beyond our comprehension”
(St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi).
Behold at Your feet, O Lord, a very poor creature: weak, feeble, inclined to evil, and capable of every sin, a worthless creature, like the grass of the field, which is today and tomorrow is not, a wretched creature, who has nothing good in itself and is unable to do anything that is good. Yet, O Jesus, true Son of God, image of the Father, the beginning and the end of all things, Ruler of the universe, Savior of the world, You bend down to me, miserable as I am. You take me, and unite me to Yourself, so closely that I become one of Your members. Then you give me Your life, You make me live Your very life. O Lord, O infinite beauty and holiness, how can You bear to have as one of Your members such a wretched, unworthy creature? You not only do this, but You want to do so, for You have said, “Abide in Me.”
Can I refuse to accept Your invitation and Your command, O Lord, when I know that You Yourself wish to make me an integral part of Your Mystical Body? O Lord, if I could only realize the greatness, the value of this infinite gift which You offer me, and understand the meaning of this sublime reality—to live in You and by You, as the branch lives in the vine, as the member in the body! What do I lack, O Lord, for my sanctification, for my life of union with You? You have already given me much more than I ever could have desired.
O Lord, make me sense the profound reality of this great mystery which brings me into such close union with You. Let it dominate, illumine, and direct my whole life; let everything else fade before it. Grant that I may never seek or desire anything except this reality, and let the deceptive vanities of the world have no attraction for me. Make me have a deep, lively sense of the duty and sweet necessity of being a member worthy of You, and grant that my actions and my life may be such as to do honor to You.
Note from Dan: This post on the Mystical Body of Christ is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art: Ecstacy of St Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, attributed to Alessandro Rosi, circa 1670, PD-US author’s term of life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.