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Being the “Body of Christ”


The Church recently celebrated Corpus Christi: the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus. As I listened to my priest give a homily on what it means to be the body of Christ, my mind wandered to America’s current unrest. “When I distribute Communion and say ‘the body of Christ,’” the priest said, “I am both affirming the individual in front of me and the physical host in my hand.” These words reminded me that we are the body of Christ, and our brothers and sisters in Christ are hurting because of injustice. As Catholics, we must both prepare ourselves to receive Communion and allow the reception of it to inspire our actions.
 
Catholic Social Teaching informs Catholics about the values of solidarity, the life and dignity of the human person, call to family, community and participation, rights and responsibilities, the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, the dignity of work and workers, and care for God’s creation. All of these values add up to tell us that we should care about our black brothers and sisters.
 
In the past few weeks, we have seen protestors gather in huge numbers in cities and towns across the country. Many of the young people looking to change the unjust situation in our country are the same young people who sit next to you in your Church pews on Sunday. Perhaps they are fighting for justice because they remember the stories of Jesus radically loving the vulnerable and marginalized of society.
 
By acknowledging how police brutality and systemic racism devalue the life of black Americans the Church has a powerful opportunity to show what it means to be pro-life. While being pro-life means working to eliminate abortion or the death penalty, it also means fighting for equality for all people. Actively living a pro-life lifestyle means working to end discrimination and promote anti-racist language, behavior, and policies. It means standing up for populations who do not have a voice. It means listening, learning, extending empathy, and amplifying voices that are different from yours.
 
We are the Body of Christ. Let us be the hands that help, the ears that listen, the minds that work for reform, and the bodies that work for justice.
 
Jessica Guerriero is the RENEW Theology on Tap Coordinator and is a student majoring in Catholic Studies at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.

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