St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians indicates simultaneous love and frustration for the Church in Corinth. Paul expressed his concern over its liturgy. The community had distorted the ritual of the Eucharistic feast to be a time for private meals, which showed the economic disparity between their members. The wealthy were able to have choice food; the poor among the Church went hungry. The Eucharistic celebration became less about Christ feeding his disciples, all of them, both the rich and the poor.
If Paul was to visit our faith communities today, I wonder what Paul would see. We have brothers and sisters who bring a skin color or an orientation that has been stigmatized; others a first language not often known widely. Often our local faith communities comprise members of various financial backgrounds, while a majority may belong to one tax bracket over another. Our Church has failed to welcome, include, and enter into the struggles that all the members of our community bring to our weekly Eucharist.
The Holy Spirit continually recreates from our diversity something greater than us as individuals: the Body of Christ. For God to fulfill this dream, we have to be willing to reconcile our differences without asking people to change their multifaceted identity. Instead, Paul exhorts us to wait for one another. By waiting, we step outside our immediate personal concerns (and our usual ways of thinking and feeling), and take part in another’s life. Our struggles and joys become shared. We cannot be the Body without another sharing in this Mystery together.
How have I been an agent for inclusion and welcome in my local faith community? When I have felt like the outsider, and who welcomed me? How was Jesus in this person or group?