Standing in front of a class of students for 8 hours a day is one big test of humility it seems. I really did believe I was good in that department. I didn’t need any more circumstances to grow in that virtue, but of course, God usually has different plans. When explaining St. Paul’s teaching of the Church as One Body, I decided to do a really fun project. I had each student draw themselves on gingerbread men cutouts. I was very excited for how I envisioned this project to look at completion. I had them write their name and their greatest talent somewhere on their masterpiece. The class period is over and every student cut out their mini- person. The masterpiece I envisioned was to place each of these little cutouts together to form a big puzzle. The cutouts were specifically passed on to me with that purpose from another teacher… Sadly, I laid out each piece and shook my head. There was no way this was going to work. No pieces fit together AT ALL. Trust me, I tried a variety of ways.
In a tiny moment of humility, which in teaching can also be referred to as humiliation, I decided to put their mini people together “holding hands”. In the hallway outside the 3rd-grade class, we have our poster hanging with the title, “One Body & One Family”. Even though it did not go as planned, my students saw the purpose and the unity. The poster was covered with words that describe a relationship of one body and family. They wrote words such as; respectful, loving, fair, trustworthy, honest, hardworking, accepting, and faithful. It wasn’t what I envisioned, but it definitely was beautiful.
Today’s First Reading reminds us of the call to build up this Body. The Body of Christ is not one to just be in and not do anything. Being baptized sons and daughters of the King requires us to dive deep. This reading tells us that we all have different roles, different vocations and gifts that we must use to build up His Body. It goes on to say that we should not be tossed by the waves. We should not be blown and swept away by the wind that arises, but “rather living the truth in love”. Living the truth in LOVE! This is our call. This is our vocation no matter what part we play in the Body of Christ. Living a life that is proclaiming His truth in love.
Whether you feel you are the heart, the mind, the strength or the arms, or sight of the eyes, whichever part your gift lies must be rooted in love. When we commit ourselves to living this life of love, “the proper functioning of each part, brings about the Body’s growth and builds itself up in love.”
In the Gospel today, Jesus gives another example for us to receive. He compares the working of the Body of Christ to the cultivation of a fig tree planted in an orchard. When it is not bearing fruit, the ground must be cultivated and fertilized so that it may bear fruit.
I look at my “masterpiece” in the hallway of our One Body and One Family. In it, I see my student’s cultivation and building of His Kingdom. Each talent and characteristic they are striving for requires much work. This is the work of our hearts and soul, which lay the cultivated and ready soil for us to bear fruit. What is a talent you have that you overlook? What is one characteristic of a family that you may need to work on? Let’s cultivate our soil, gloves on or off. Let’s be rooted in good soil, dive deep into that water so that we do not stay close to the shore. The Church, the Body of Christ, grows when we commit to cultivating our lives in living out the truth of love.
Briana is a Catholic Doctrine teacher at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel school in Cleveland, OH. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to bring her students closer to Christ and His Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese