What brings to mind these reflections on Eucharist and being-in-transition is the reality of how millions of people in our world are forced to live today. For example, transition, uncertainty, vulnerability, quarantine, isolation all mark the lives of people who are forced to flee their homes because of war or other violence. Whether they have to move to a new country, or to a new, hopefully safer place within their own country, they are in transition physically, psychologically, emotionally. They are caught between powers over which they have no control: political, religious, economic.

As I noted earlier, the celebration of the Eucharist might well seem light-years away from the reality of the suffering of refugees and displaced people. I believe that it is possible to find a connection between these two realities, but to do so we have to reflect on what the body of Christ is, what church is, what it means to be the body of the One into whose death and resurrrection we have been baptized. His body suffered at the hands of the powers of his time. He went through a Passover, a transition, experiencing becoming an object, abandoned and left to the powers that destroyed him – hanging on a cross between heaven and earth, between two convicted criminals. The end of his life was a journey from the midst of his community of disciples and followers to the aloneness of his execution.

Because we are the body of the One who suffered at the hands of the powers of his day, the church must be, is called to be, the place where people who suffer at the hands of the powers of our world will find welcome, embrace, hope, life. The church can be that place because suffering and death did not have the last word over Christ; “trampling down death by death,” he journeyed through suffering and death to resurrection. His being raised from the dead is the source for our being hope to others today. Not the source of our ability simply to give hope, but to be hope, to embody hope. In becoming tangible hope. We who insist that the Eucharist is not only a “mere symbol” (can a symbol ever be “mere”?) need to insist equally firmly that as members of Christ, we are to be Christ’s presence concretely, tangibly. In being so, we don’t claim that we are superhuman or somehow better than anyone else. Quite the opposite. In becoming hope and life for others, we discover our own brokenness, our own suffering, our own need for healing, life, and hope.

We dare to believe that as the body of Christ we are not only saved and nourished by the Eucharist we celebrate and receive, but that we ourselves become who we receive. “Become what you receive,” said St. Augustine to his hearers in North Africa. His exhortation remains as true for us today as it was for his church then.

Advertisements