Part 5 of a weekly series.
Since I was young I have been a soccer fan. I love the flow of the game and the way a team can move the ball around. As with any team, soccer players have to work together. When you possess the ball, you have to keep one eye on the ball while keeping an eye on everyone else around you.
To win, you have to "look up and look out" to see where your support is. Those who don’t will lose the ball under the pressure of a strong defensive attack. If you hold onto the ball too long because you don’t trust your teammates, you will lose the ball. If the whole team does this, they will lose the game.
Being a disciple of Jesus is just like this. If we look only at our feet, we will eventually lose sight of the goal, and lose faith, too. What strengthens us as we face pressures and challenges is looking up and seeing the team that surrounds us. Even more does our strength come from working together for the common mission of Jesus Christ.
In Paul’s Letter to the Romans, he offers us insight about what makes the body of Christ like a team. "For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another" (12:4-5). Yes, we are members of Christ and of one another. We belong to each other.
St. Paul tells us that the unity of the church is built up to the degree to which we acknowledge that the body of Christ is made up of many different members, all of whom are essential to the proper functioning of the body. This means that we cannot be envious of another’s talents. Nor can we be arrogant toward those whose gifts do not draw the spotlight. Paul says, "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them." That means we must appreciate everyone’s gifts and create space to allow all gifts to be expressed.
Bishop David Zubik is calling us to be a unified body that works together and accepts the complementarity of what all can do for the kingdom of God. This cannot be a one-man show. Most importantly, the clergy, laity and religious all have to work together to realize God’s plan.
The body of Christ is called to be a team that works together for a good that surpasses any of our own particular interests or talents. It is a body whose members are called to sacrifice for each other and commend one another for the good we each do. This is what builds a functional team that knows how to succeed.
In matters of faith success is measured by how well the mission of Jesus Christ is fulfilled in and through us, his body, the church. Do we play well together? On Mission for The Church Alive! is an opportunity for us to "look up and look out" to see who surrounds us on this team, as we look for support. We have many challenges ahead of us, but together we are one body in Christ — and, as the well-known hymn says, we do not stand alone.
Therrien is diocesan secretary of evangelization and Catholic education.