|March 23, 2015 • VOL. 53, NO. 6 • Oakland, CA|
Beautiful metaphor in nature gives us insight into Church
For example, honeybees contribute to the pollination of fruit trees, producing more abundant and healthy fruit. As honeybees harvest the nectar and pollen from flowers and fruit trees they produce a human source of food, honey! We are nourished by these healthy food sources from both the bees and the trees!
God's divine creation shows in these synchronicities in nature that perpetuate beautiful examples of communion, life and His love. We come to Church to be nourished by the words of God and the Eucharist because of this same symbiotic nature. Our bodies are divinely nourished and we are ultimately preparing for our eternal mission, to live our lives in the image and likeness of Christ. We are then able to go out into the world and produce more abundant fruit, too.
Symbiotic relationships like this one are a divine gift and "communion" between nature and humanity. What I find quite intriguing is the metaphorical identity the honeybee hive has with the Church. If we dig deeper there is a beautiful metaphor that gives us some insight into the divine structure of the Catholic Church.
For example, our blessed mother, Mary is the queen of heaven and earth; she is the queen mother of the Church, just like the queen bee is the matriarch of the beehive. The beehive dies without her. Our bishops and priests, much like the drones of a beehive, serve the colony. The drones are the only male bees in the beehive and they are very few in relation to the worker bees. Drones make sure the queen bee remains healthy so that the hive is always productive and growing. The beehive is made up primarily of worker bees, they work hard toward the mission of the hive, producing honey and protecting the hive from predators. Much like Christians are called to the mission of proclaiming the good news and furthering the kingdom of God's love throughout the world. We are charged with protecting the integrity of the faith and spreading the mission of love throughout all the nations of the world.
The community of the Catholic Church is none as the bride of Christ (He is the bridegroom), so Mother Church takes on a feminine gender much like the community of worker bees in the beehive is feminine. Our bishops and priests represent Christ in Persona Christi — the person of Christ, the bridegroom and good shepherd. They are the male gender in the structure of the Church.
So where is the divine presence of God in the beehive metaphor of the Church you might ask? He is the honey — the sweetness of honey. God's presence in the universal Church is found in the living words of Christ, the holy water in the baptismal font, the eternal flame, the tabernacle, the Eucharist, and the spirit of the faithful as they come to be nourished. Through His omnipotence, His spirit governs the heart of the community. The buzz of a healthy community is seen in its example of charity, which is its shared love and missionary outreach.
This is the sweet honey — the very taste of the living words of God being lived (Ezekiel 3:3-4). The honey that feeds the beehive reminds me of the living words of Christ that feeds the spirit of the Church — the community and body of Christ in the world today.
(Marty Troiani is a parishioner of St. Joan of Arc Parish in San Ramon, a fourth degree member of the Knights of Columbus and Edge youth volunteer.)
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