Why I Love the Corporation: A reflection for Pentecost by Luke Stocking
“Spirited Reflection — Sunday, June 8, 2014
by Luke Stocking, Animator for Central Ontario at Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
Because of my activism, lifestyle, and career choice, some people would label me as anti-corporate. It is true that my analysis of how to build a better world involves leveling criticisms at various large corporations. But I am not anti-corporate. I am very much in favour of corporations. In fact, I am a member of one of the largest and oldest corporations in the world. This corporation is found in pretty much every country and territory in the world and has over 2 billion individual shareholders. Its brand is one of the most recognizable in the world – the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.
Yes, the corporation I love is the Corpus Christi – the Body of Christ. To believe in Jesus is to believe that Jesus is in us. He is in us and together we are the individual members of his risen body alive today.
Pentecost is penetration and birth by fire. At that moment Christ explodes back into the world and history, penetrating us with his Spirit and rocketing us out into the world!
The teaching that we are united as Christians in the very body of Christ comes from St. Paul the apostle. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Cor. 12:27)
When I was a boy in our church choir we sang the church hymn, “We are one body, one body in Christ – and we do not stand alone.” These words gave song to what my soul understood. The experience of being one in Christ cannot be separated from our relationship to others. Christ binds us to himself by binding us to one another, thus we do not stand alone. Furthermore, Paul tells us that we are bound in a special way to the weakest members of the body saying, “the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensible, and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect.” (1 Cor. 12:22-24)
When I dream, I imagine a world where corporations of the world are more like the Corpus Christi. Currently, there are fundamental differences in their basic constitution. For example, it is my understanding that corporations are designed to reduce the personal responsibility of their members with respect to the corporation’s actions. In contrast, the Body of Christ is premised on a sense of personal responsibility. In fact, the risen Body of Christ is born from the supreme sacrifice – Jesus taking all the suffering and sin of the world upon the cross and giving his life to free us from it.
In the outline I made for this Spirited Reflection, I am supposed to now focus on the differences between a corporation that seeks profit at all costs (à la the movie “The Corporation”) and the Body of Christ which says, “for what does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?” (Luke 9:25)
But when I wrote the words, “I imagine a world where corporations are more like the Corpus Christi” I actually did imagine it. And when I did, I was reminded that our creations of charitable, non-profit, co-operative and credit union organizations are also corporate in nature. Perhaps they are a step in the right direction. Development and Peace, for whom I work, is after all a legal corporation!
No matter how much like the Body of Christ we may end up making our corporations, there is one thing that will always remain – corporations are human creations whereas the Risen Body of Christ comes from God. Even were I to lose my baptismal certificate, I do not lose my membership in the body.
When others may put their faith in the corporations, even charitable ones, to save the world, I say we would do well to remember the words of Dorothy Day. When the advantages of incorporating her Catholic Worker community were pointed out to her she responded, “You don’t need to be incorporated to wash a man’s feet.”