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Mystical Body of Christ

Blog Headers 2022-23 (12)

Editor’s note: Victor Artaiz, a missioner serving in Bolivia, reflects on the ways he sees the “mystical body of Christ”—that is, the Christian community—alive and committed to service in Cochabamba.

In mission, we who have left home and family to accompany others living on the margins in other countries are encouraged and nourished by the prayers, thoughts, and resources of our friends and family back home. Here in Cochabamba, we are welcomed by a new family who are part of Jesus’ living Mystical Body. Theologians describe the mystical body of Christ as the mystical union of all Christians, with Jesus as the head. It reminds us that as followers of Christ, we are one family, no matter the distance or difference between us.

At his Ascension, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit as our advocate to extend his love and power to his followers through the ages to be his mystical body, his Church. We can see reflections of the mystical body in the Church, as well. The “head” could be the successor of Saint Peter, currently Pope Francis. We, the body, are encouraged to cooperate with Christ’s will and purposes when we study the Gospels and receive the Eucharist. The soul reminds us of the third person of God, the Holy Spirit, which inspires and motivates the Church in her mission.

Here in the city Cochabamba, there is a vibrant community of the Catholic faithful. From the continuing legacy of Franciscan Padres and Brothers being in Bolivia for over 810 years and the Fathers and brother missionaries of Maryknoll to the over 60 churches throughout, Christ’s mystical body is hard at work in the harvest of the Father.

Franciscan Mission Service has provided me and my fellow overseas lay missioners the formation and continuing guidance to live via the virtues of Saints Francis and Clare such as simplicity, humility, compassion, a reverence for creation, vulnerability, and others. This foundation of God’s love allows us to be a positive presence of accompaniment with our neighbors experiencing hunger, homelessness, and many other challenges in life.

It is a blessing to live in a community where one can both serve and be served within Christ’s mystical body.

Question for reflection: How do you see the body of Christ at work in your community?

After a 30 year career in international business and serving communities in Kenya and locally in New Haven, CT, Victor Artaiz is grateful for the opportunity to serve and accompany individuals living on the margins in mutuality and simplicity through FMS’ Overseas Lay Missioner program. Victor's ministries in Cochabamba, Bolivia, include addiction recovery services, accompanying men who are incarcerated, and serving meals to people experiencing hunger.