Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
While reflecting on the coming feast of Corpus Christi, this image captured my attention. Someone has put together into one picture a traditional image of the Last Supper with the Healthcare workers at Hopital La Pitié Salpêtrière in Paris.
My first glimpse brought to mind the words of St Teresa of Avila, ‘Christ has no body now but yours.’ We know that the medical ‘frontliners’ are breaking open the bread of their lives every day for others, reflecting Jesus words: ‘This is my body, given for you.’
Unlike the ‘frontliners’, those of us in isolation have had the time and space for solitude and contemplation. While these ‘bubbles’ may have been very contained, we have been taken right into the suffering of our world through a multitude of media. What a gift to help keep in balance personal need and that of those most suffering.
All around me in my ‘stay at home’ world I see people every day being the hands, heart, eyes and ears of Christ to each other. The ANZAC Day driveway gatherings provided a chance to meet neighbours for the first time; Sisters taking someone for a drive to see more than their own four walls; shopping lists taken by others and the goods delivered; creative ways of celebrating birthdays; facilitating the livestreaming of funerals so people can be ‘present’; the joy and frustrations of communal jigsaws, to name a few. These freely shared, loving acts of neighbourliness and kindness are flattening many curves of isolation and need. So, while not being able to gather for Eucharist, people are daily breaking open the bread of their lives with and for each other.
It is no surprise that this unique global experience has seen our connections across the world dramatically increase through the internet. I have been fed by the sharing of story, image, poetry, satire, song, music and cartoon – all gift to share with others. The creativity shown by many online has nourished solidarity and connection. Platforms like Zoom and Skype have provided new opportunities to bring a variety and a diversity of people together to pray, sing, discuss, celebrate and dream of a better, healthier future for humankind and our planet. St Paul talks of creation groaning and I can’t help but think that our planet is also singing because our standstill has given it a chance to breathe better. We are one body on and with this planet and we have all seen the dramatic impact this standstill has had the planet. Dare we engage in determining a better future?
In our Easter journey this year we, like Jesus’ followers, have had to ‘see’ with new eyes. In the face of extreme suffering we recognise Christ in the breaking of the bread of so many people’s lives. Let’s take these thoughts into this feast of Corpus Christi as we celebrate how each is and has been the feet, hands, eyes, voice – the Body of Christ.
Annette Arnold rsj
This YouTube of St Teresa’s words provides an opportunity for reflection: