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What do we mean when we refer to “the Body of Christ”?

txt-church-usccaThe image of the Church as Communion has the value of connecting truths about the Church in a fruitful and harmonious manner. We begin with a definition of the Church as Communion.

The Church as Communion is our loving fellowship and union with Jesus and other baptized Christians in the Church, the Body of Christ, which has its source and summit in the celebration of the Eucharist by which we are joined in divine love to the communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (cf. CCC, Glossary)

The Church, the Body of Christ, is the assembly of people gathered into her by Baptism and their participation in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, which open their minds and hearts to the Trinity, a loving communion of divine persons. In this communion of the Church, the members are called to love God, others, and self, and so to be a communal witness of the love by which Christ saved the world. By divine love, we are joined to the communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

At the center of the Gospel message is God’s desire to share the communion of Trinitarian life with us. Jesus came to invite everyone to participate in the loving communion that Father, Son, and Spirit have with each other. All creation is meant to show us the Trinity’s plan of love for us. Everything Jesus did pointed to this goal.

In the Church, the Holy Spirit works in us to achieve the same purpose. When we say God is love, we are doing more than applying an abstract quality to the Lord. We testify in faith that God as Trinity wants to relate to us and to be engaged in our world.

This truth in no way diminishes the mystery of God as totally other, unique, awesome, majestic, and pure holiness. But love within the Trinity makes possible a divine closeness to us. Love preserves the mystery and yet overcomes what might have been a gulf between us and God. Unity and communion with God in the Church also calls us to become a source of unity for all people.

You can read more from the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, order your own copy, or read questions about it at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.

Copyright © 2006, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder.