In the Body of Christ, we each have a unique role to play. But do we live it out?

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Putting it politely, you’re a snowflake. Or, more bluntly, an oddball.

Both are true and neither is your fault. If you have to blame someone, blame God. He’s guilty as charged. And, one assumes, more than a little pleased with it.

What we have here is a conspiracy: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Blessed Trinity, in cahoots.

This is what they did:

Knew you and loved you from before all time and will continue to do that for infinitely past the end of time. Somewhere — in the middle of that eternity — they created you, a human being. 

A little body (and soul) that’s like no other. A snowflake. So unique! (Or sui generis, if you have more faith in an article that uses a touch of Latin every now and then.)

And … you’re an oddball. Another way of saying nobody is exactly like you and some of your individuality can come across as … . What’s the word? Weird. As seen by you, from the inside looking out. And by others, seen looking on but not really in.

It’s OK. Humanity is supposed to be this way. And always has been. You’re supposed to be this way. And always will be.

Now here’s something interesting for readers who also want an article to have a little science in it, too. We can consider botany as well as theology. (Science and religion are not opposites or enemies.)

Just as (we’re told) no two snowflakes are exactly alike, so too with branches on a vine. No, not red licorice “vines,” but grapevines. The latter has branches, each with its own twists and turns. Each with the function to grow fruit.

Hold on. More “Catholic stuff” is coming, but maybe you’ve already figured it out.

To quote the Messiah: “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” (Jn 15:5).

One vine, many branches. Each unique, each created to bear fruit. All of us making the same fruit in a large sense (love for God and others), but different fruit in a smaller sense (how we individually live out that love for God and others).

You know about small different fruit. Look at what your siblings do. The vocations, the jobs, the avocations. Look at what you do. Some similarities, but not identical.

Same among generations. Your folks did this, you do that. You do that, your kids … . Well, let’s not wander into that territory here. Best to have faith, and look for the fruit. (And have patience, too. St. Monica, pray for us.)

Keep in mind another little gem Jesus offered his disciples: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another” (Jn 15:16-17). Mirabile dictu! (A touch more Latin. Just for you.) “Wonderful to say!”

Jesus chose and appointed you. Quite an honor but not an honorary position. You — yes you — are to do something that will last. That will remain after your remains have been planted.

Talk about pressure! But the Father will give you what you need and one thing you need to do is “love one another.”

Enter “one body, many parts.” Here’s where it gets … not tricky. But interesting or, to be honest, complicated. Here’s where envy and pride can slither in.

For this, we turn to St. Paul (1 Cor 12:12-31):

“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. 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.

“Now the body is not a single part, but many. … As it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I do not need you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I do not need you.’ Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary. … But God has so constructed the body … so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.”

We each have a place in humanity and in the Body of Christ, a place that’s ours and ours alone. Yours and yours alone.

What a relief! What good news. Consider:

  1. You’re not a “failure” if others make more money, have more respected professions and on and on. You’re a success if you are doing what you — little snowflake — were created by God to do.
  1. You’re not “poorly made” if you’re not the brightest, cutest, most charming and on and on. You may not be a head but, by golly, you can be one terrific foot.
  1. Warning! Danger! Warning! Sometimes, it can take deliberate effort not to be envious of those who have more. Who accomplish more. Who seem to be more. If God made you a two-grape branch then be content being a two-grape branch. Be the best one you can be.
  1. Danger! Warning! Danger! This is even more insidious and … serpent-like … so watch out! If you were created a 12-grape branch and look down on the two-grapers, you’re letting pride slither in and spread. Not good. So very not good.
  1. Let’s end with one more point to consider about being a part of a body, about being a branch that bears fruit that will last. Love. In this world and into the next, love is what lasts.

Bill Dodds writes from Washington.

On grapes and parts

How to be a better grape producer

Remember, it’s quality not quantity. If the Vine wants you to make three delicious grapes, don’t drive yourself to distraction because you think you should be making more.

On the other hand, if you’re producing only three grapes but were created to make six, get crackin’!

But how can you do that? Here’s a tip: “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). Oh, yeah. That. The closer your relationship to Christ, the easier it is to do what he asks you to do. And the easier it is to not do some things he isn’t asking you to do.

He — most certainly, along with the Holy Spirit — will tell you when to speed it up and when to slow it down. “It” being producing the fruit you were created to produce.

And, keep in mind, into every life, some rain will fall. It takes that, and sunshine, to grow top-notch grapes.

How to be a better body part

Accept the fact others may have a less than stellar (or even kind) opinion of you because you seem so … unimportant. So pizazz-less.

Or so it appears to them, and it can be hard not to adopt their misconception. “Shoot, they’re right. I am a dud.”

And then there’s the reverse: Others heap praise on you because of how you look or what you own (not what you do) and you begin to adopt their misconceptions. “Hey, they’re right. I am great.”

In each case, the solution is the same. Recognize what you are and what you were created to be. Strive to live that life, that gift, with grace and joy and a healthy humility.

Look for the good in others and sincerely thank them for what they do.

Treat them as you would like to be, as you should be, treated.

That has a familiar ring to it, doesn’t it? Something about loving others as you love yourself?

Bill Dodds

Bill Dodds writes from Washington.