The Body as a Well-functioning Team – 3rd Sunday

Source: ig,ca

This is Sunday in the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The 2022 theme for the Week of Prayer, “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him” (Mt 2:2), was prepared by the Middle East Council of Churches, based in Beirut, Lebanon.

The Canadian Council of Churches tells us that the international theme speaks to our world’s urgent need for solidarity and transformation in the face of political, economic, and social turmoil, including the challenges and injustices highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we join the Christians of the Middle East in the journey to Christ’s manger, may we become a sign of the unity that God desires for all creation, and, like the magi, may we return to our home, our churches, and our world by new ways.

The reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians is perfect for this week. People use different images to describe teamwork. Many use the image of an orchestra or a choir.

St. Paul uses the analogy of the human body. We get one of his better-known metaphors in today’s reading – the human body. Paul is primarily speaking of our life in Christ, our common team or mission.

“For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.” He goes on to write of how the various body parts work together, in coordination – the foot, the hand, the eye, the ear, the nose, and so on.

“If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body.” Paul applies the metaphor to the manner in which we all work together in the Church.

The Church as well-working body? That’s a nice hope. It’s a dream that we can look toward. And weeks of prayer such as this, help us to strive for it, even when we know how far we are from the ideal. We have to hope that as many members of the team as possible are playing their part. What is your part? And, how do you exercise it? Is there conflict with another player? How do you know when things are working?

We find many motivational quotes about team. I find that the experience of good teamwork is not something I can sum up in one quote. I tend to think back to my personal experience of team.There have been a few apostolic assignments in my Jesuit life where I have been fortunate to be associated with a great team of men and women, bound together by a common mission. It doesn’t just happen.

Ongoing work is required to sustain the sense of team, but my experience is that the starting point is a sense of cohesion and being energized by each other. It’s a magical experience when it works with beauty. That experience of team is so easily broken. All it takes is one person, decision or action.

I’ve been part of fantastic teams and I’ve been part of teams that rival any dysfunctional family. I doubt that a motivational poster on the cafeteria wall will solve dysfunction.

Let us pray for unity in the Christian community.

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Vicky Chen
    Posted at 04:52h, 23 January Reply

    Dear Fr. Phil, I kept my old Embryology textbook for the spiritual message that touched me while in training as a medical resident. One tiny error in the movement of a single cell at the early stage can result in significant subsequent structural malformation. The whole orchestration confirms for me the presence of a supreme Creator. I even evangelize my students afterwards. Who knows what God has in store for each of us, dysfunctional or not? (Jeremiah 1:5)

  • Jeannette Filthaut S,P,
    Posted at 05:52h, 23 January Reply

    Thank you Philip for this reflection on teamwork. This morning it spoke to me through the questions you asked. Christian Unity week always invites us to deeper reflection. What is the NEW WAY to which we are being invited to Unity through this Covid time when there seems to be even greater diversity and opposition to live with this new suffering?? Blessings and Gratefulness for your reflections.

  • John Meehan
    Posted at 08:19h, 23 January Reply

    Thanks for your reflection, Philip, and thanks for highlighting the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

  • Richard Grover
    Posted at 09:54h, 23 January Reply

    Thanks for making me think of team bench strength, Phil. Your wisdom also makes me think not only of C19 lockdowns and isolation, but the pressure on married couples. And in the world scenario, how do we avoid war and environmental disaster if we can’t work together?

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 10:14h, 23 January Reply

    Thank you Philip!

  • suzanne renaud
    Posted at 16:18h, 23 January Reply

    Thank you for this honest reflection.

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