This Is My Body

March 4th, 2019 by Dave Leave a reply »

God’s Body
Sunday, March 3, 2019

As I shared earlier, the prologue to John’s Gospel gives us a wonderful vision of the Christ Mystery. [1] John uses the word Logos, which I take to mean blueprint. It is the inner pattern of reality, revealed in Jesus and in creation. Let’s take a closer look:

In the beginning was the blueprint. The blueprint was with God. The blueprint was God. And all things came to be through this inner plan. [The inner reality of God is manifest in the outer material world. That is why we can consider creation to be the Body of God.] No one thing came to be except through this blueprint and plan. All that came to be had life in him. [Now it’s become personalized: in him, in Jesus. So, this great universal mystery since the beginning of time now becomes specific in the body and the person of Jesus. The blueprint has become personified and visible.] And that life was the light of humanity (John 1: 1-3).

At the Last Supper, when Jesus held up the bread and spoke the words “This is my Body,” I believe he was speaking not just about the bread right in front of him, but about the whole universe, about every thing that is physical, material, and yet also spirit-filled. His assertion and Christians’ repetition resound over all creation before they also settle into one piece of bread to be shared. The bread and wine, and all of creation, seem to believe who and what they are much more readily than humans do. They know they are the Body of Christ, even if many Homo sapiensresist and even deny such a thought. When celebrants speak these sacred words at the altar, they are speaking them to both the bread and the congregation—so they can carry it “to all of creation” (Mark 16:16). As St. Augustine (354–430 CE) preached, we must feed the Body of Christ to the people of God until they know that they are what they eat! [2]

We also are the Body of Christ, as is all of the universe. The Apostle Paul used a perfect metaphor: “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. . . . Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27). I love to think of every flowing stream, every waterfall, and every river as “baptizing” the physical universe, washing away its inability to know how glorious it is. (Read a few Mary Oliver poems if you want to get the same message.)

You Are the Body of Christ
Monday, March 4, 2019

Christ is the eternal amalgam of matter and spirit as one. They hold and reveal one another. Wherever the human and the divine coexist, we have the Christ. Wherever the material and the spiritual coincide, we have the Christ. That includes the material world, the natural world, the animal world (including humans), and moves all the way to the elemental world, symbolized by bread and wine. The Eucharist just offers Christians the message in very condensed form so we can struggle with it in a specific and concrete way. We cannot think about such a universal truth logically; we can only slowly digest it! It is the spiritual version of healthy eating and nutrition.

Only gradually does the truth become believable. Finally, the Body of Christ is not out there or over there; it’s in you—it’s here and now and everywhere. The goal is then to move beyond yourself and recognize that what’s true in you is true in all others too. This was supposed to spark a political and social revolution. But Christians wasted centuries arguing about whether it could even be true and how it might be true. The orthodox insistence on “Real Presence” is merely taking the Mystery of Incarnation to its natural, full, and very good conclusion. Here I am quite happy to be traditionally Catholic. “There is only Christ, he is everything, and he is in everything,” Paul shouts (see Colossians 3:11). This is not pantheism; it is the much more subtle and subversive panentheism, or God in all things. (The only trouble with our Catholic belief in “transubstantiation” is that this explanation smacked of pantheism, whereas panentheism would have been much easier to defend and understand.)

You and I are living here in this ever-expanding universe. You and I are a part of this Christ Mystery without any choice on our part. We just are, whether we like it or not. It’s nothing we have to consciously believe, although that sure helps and seems to accelerate the enjoyment. Incarnation is first of all announcing an objective truth. If we consciously take this mystery as our worldview, it will create a deep contentment and inherent dignity in those who trust it. It gives us all significance and a sense of belonging as part of God’s Great Work—no exceptions. We are no longer alienated from God, others, or the universe. Everything belongs from the beginning. And it has always been pure, undeserved gift. The utter gratuity of it all is what we cannot comprehend!

Participating in Christ allows me to know that I don’t matter at all, and yet I matter intensely—at the same time! That’s the ultimate therapeutic healing. I’m just a little grain of sand in this giant, giant universe. I’m going to pass from this form in a little while, just like everyone else will. But I’m also a child of God and part of the eternal Body of Christ. I’m connected radically, inherently, intrinsically to the Center and to everything else. I call this “ontological holiness” as opposed to the moral holiness most of us were taught and inside of which no one really succeeds.


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