Part of a Body
Working together is important
by Charlotte Benstead (revised, originally published in 2005)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec) - Church Schools
To use the human body to illustrate the importance of working together.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and two or more students to read out the facts about the body in the 'Assembly', after the introduction.
Leader: You are amazing, really amazing . . . well, your bodies are anyway! Here are some facts about your bodies that will show you just how amazing they are.
Reader 1: The body is composed of about 100,000 billion cells. That's 100 million million cells!
Reader 2: Your body is 60 per cent water.
Reader 1: You breathe enough air throughout your lifetime to fill 10 million balloons.
Reader 2: The heart pumps 5 litres of blood through the body at any one time. An average heart beats over 100,000 times a day.
Reader 1: There are about 100,000 miles of blood vessels in an adult's body. That means they would circle the equator four times.
Reader 2: The average person consumes about 35 tons of food in a lifetime.
Reader 1: The body's bacteria could fill a soup tin.
Reader 2: The average head has 100,000 hairs, each living for about two to six years.
Reader 1: Under normal conditions, during strenuous exercise you can secrete up to a litre (nearly 2 pints) of sweat per hour.
Reader 2: You secrete 100 litres (22 gallons) in your lifetime.
Leader: The human body is a marvellous work of God’s creation. Every time you raise a finger or take a step, an infinite number of cells and nerves interact to produce such seemingly simple movements.
In the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 12.12-27 (CEV), Paul likens the Church to the human body. This is what he says:
The body of Christ has many different parts, just as any other body does. . . . Our bodies don't have just one part. They have many parts. Suppose a foot says, 'I'm not a hand, and so I'm not part of the body.' Wouldn't the foot still belong to the body? Or suppose an ear says, 'I'm not an eye, and so I'm not part of the body.' Would the ear still belong to the body? If our bodies were only an eye, we couldn't hear a thing. And if they were only an ear, we couldn't smell a thing. But God has put all parts of our body together in the way that he decided is best.
A body isn't really a body, unless there is more than one part. It takes many parts to make a single body. That's why the eyes cannot say they don't need the hands. That's also why the head cannot say it doesn't need the feet. In fact, we cannot get along without the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest. . . . God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others. If one part of our body hurts, we hurt all over. If one part of our body is honoured, the whole body will be happy.
So, what Paul is explaining here is that just as each individual cell contributes to the whole body, each person must play his or her part to ensure that each community he or she belongs to (family, school, church, local neighbourhood and so on) works in the best way possible. Without the cooperation and joint effort of our brains, bones and muscles, the body cannot function. In the same way, if we don't all cooperate with other people, the world will be paralysed.
Time for reflection
St. Teresa reflected on this image in the following way.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet, on Earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks
Compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet
With which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
With which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet.
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on Earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes, through which he looks
Compassion on the world.
Christ has no body now on Earth but yours.
Bless our hands, that we touch what is good.
Bless our feet, that we may walk along your path.
Bless our eyes, that we may look with compassion.
Bless our ears, that we may heed those in need.
Bless our mouths, that we may speak words of comfort.
‘Breathe on me' (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 25, 2008 edition)