Sunday, September 7, 2014

If the baptized becomes part of the Body of Christ, what body does the unbaptized become part of?

Question: When we were baptized, we become part of the Body of Christ.  How about other people who were not baptized as Catholics?  What are they part of?

Reply:

The short answer is "I don't know."  What we can only be sure is that the baptized becomes part of the body of Christ.  In this article, we shall discuss what the Body of Christ is and how it is related to other bodies such as corporations, marriages, prostitutes, and corpses.

A. Mystical Body of Christ

Since the Church is the Body of Christ, and Christ is the only mediator between man and God, then outside of the Church there is no salvation.  As the Catechism says:
334 "Outside the Church there is no salvation" 846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336 847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.337 848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."338
That is why, when St. Paul was persecuting the Christians, he is also persecuting Christ Himself, as we learn from the story of St. Paul's conversion:
On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.c 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”d 5 He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.e 6 Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”f (Acts 9:3-6)
St. Paul expounds more on this theme:
As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.g 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.h 14 Now the body is not a single part, but many....If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. (1 Cor 12:12-26)
When we receive Christ in the Holy Communion, we become nourished with the divine life as cells are nourished by the nutrients carried by the blood.  If some parts of the body are not nourished by the blood, they soon die, and breaks off, such as what happens during frostbite: our noses and ears lost contact with our blood supply and they fell off.  That is why Christ said:
I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. 6 * c Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. (Jn 15:5-6)

B. Corporations, Marriages, and Prostitution

Body or Corpus is the root word of Corporations.  When a company becomes a corporation, the law gives it a legal standing equal to that of an ordinary person.  For example, the corporation can acquire properties, file a case in course, or write down its date of birth.  Corporations are ruled by board of directors in the same way as animals have brains that process information from the senses and directs how the other parts of the body reacts to stimuli.  Corporations can grow like a living organism by acquiring new members, in the same way as an plant or animal gets its food from its surroundings and transform them into parts of its body.  So if a person is not part of the body of Christ, he can still be part of another body, such as the Corporation.

Incorporation, abbreviated by Inc., is the forming of a new corporation.

In the Bible, marriage is an incorporation, the forming of a new body or corpus.  As Christ said to the Pharisees who argued for the validity of divorce according to the Law of Moses:
Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female...For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate. (Mt 19:4-6)
That is why marriage makes the husband and wife an incorporation, which makes them a single person in the eyes of the law, e.g. joint ownership of properties and incomes.

When one engages in sexual intercourse with a prostitute, one is also incorporated with the prostitute.  As St. Paul says:
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take Christ’s members and make them the members of a prostitute?* Of course not!g 16 [Or] do you not know that anyone who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For “the two,” it says, “will become one flesh.”h 17 But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. (1 Cor 6:15-17)
In the Biblical point of view, going after false gods is idolatry and akin to prostitution:
When the LORD began to speak with Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: Go, get for yourself a woman of prostitution* and children of prostitution, for the land prostitutes itself,a turning away from the LORD (Hos 1:2)... Accuse your mother, accuse! for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.* Let her remove her prostitution from her face. her adultery from between her breasts (Hos 2:4)... .Yes, their mother has prostituted herself; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, “I will go after my lovers,* who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.” (Hos 2:7) I will punish her for the days of the Baals,* for whom she burnt incense, When she decked herself out with her rings and her jewelry, and went after her lovers— but me she forgot—oracle of the LORD. (Hos 2:15)
So in a sense, those who are not part of the Body of Christ and turned to idolatry have become part of the Body of the Harlot of Babylon:
Then one of the seven angels who were holding the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come here. I will show you the judgment on the great harlot* who lives near the many waters.a 2 * The kings of the earth have had intercourse with her,b and the inhabitants of the earth became drunk on the wine of her harlotry.” 3 Then he carried me away in spirit to a deserted place where I saw a woman seated on a scarlet beast* that was covered with blasphemous names, with seven heads and ten horns.c 4 The woman was wearing purple and scarlet and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls.d She held in her hand a gold cup that was filled with the abominable and sordid deeds of her harlotry. 5 On her forehead was written a name, which is a mystery, “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” 6 * I saw that the woman was drunk on the blood of the holy ones and on the blood of the witnesses to Jesus. (Rev 17:1-6)

C. Corpse and Corpus

A corpse is what is left of the person when its soul departs from the body.  The Filipino word for this is "labi," which is translated as "remains".  Like the empty shell in the seashore, the corpse is emptied of life because of the absence of the soul or "anima".  As St. Aquinas says:
To seek the nature of the soul, we must premise that the soul is defined as the first principle of life of those things which live: for we call living things "animate," [i.e. having a soul], and those things which have no life, "inanimate." (Summa Theologica, Ques. 75, Art. 1.
It is interesting that Jesus mentions the corpse when He talked about his Second Coming:
Behold, I have told it to you beforehand. 26 So if they say to you, ‘He is in the desert,’ do not go out there; if they say, ‘He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.* 27 k For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. (Mt 24:25-28)
Jesus already died on the Cross and His Corpse was taken there.  What we shall see in the Second Coming is Christ Himself: His Corpse, so to speak, but resurrected in glory.  And He shall judge the living and the dead, classifying them according to what body they belong to, as a shepherd separate the sheeps from the goats.  It is in this event that the Mystical Body of Christ becomes clear:
Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 h For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 i And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Mt 25:34-40)

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