The Apostle Paul described Christ and the Church as a husband and wife. The husband represents Christ as the head, and the wife represents the Church. Because husband and wife are one, so is Christ and His Church also one (Ephesians 5:23-32). Christ is the Head and the Church is His Body. The head and body are one and cannot be separate. Any persecution on the Church is also a persecution on Christ.
The Apostle Paul was a Jewish Pharisee who once persecuted Christians. He was responsible for the death of St. Stephen (Acts 7:58) According to the Holy Bible:
Acts 9:1-2 And Saul, as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, And asked of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues: that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem
On his way to Damascus, Saul (who later became Paul) encountered the risen Christ. It is interesting to note what Christ said to Saul (the bold is my emphasis).
Acts 9:4-5 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.
Saul was persecuting the disciples of Christ; yet, Jesus says to Saul that he is persecuting HIM. Any persecution on the Church is also a persecution on Christ because Christ and His Church are one. Christ is found in each of us. Also, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
CCC 795 Christ and his Church thus together make up the "whole Christ" (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:
- Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and members" mean? Christ and the Church.
Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself.
- Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person.
- A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: "About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter."
So, be careful of who you persecute! You may be persecuting Christ!
Christ is also found among the poor, the suffering, and among those rejected by society. When Mother Teresa dedicated her life to serving the poor, she knew that whatever she does will not eliminate poverty. She knew that with all her efforts, poverty will still exist. However, she was happy serving the poor because it was among the poor that she met Christ, and so she served Christ there everyday.
Matthew 25:35-40 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’