A common theme within Scripture and certainly in the gospel of John is the metaphor that comes up over and over again of the Body of Christ and for us to be a part of the body of Christ. Today is no exception where we read with gory detail stuff that would make for a good thriller. What does it mean to eat Jesus’s body and to drink his blood? Instead of leaving such matters to Hollywood to figure out we know all too well, there is more going on in Scripture than what first meets the eye. So, what then is Jesus talking about now?
I am sure that like me, your iPhone or camera is full of images and pictures of yourself, friends, family and places you have been. These pictures are shared with joy and excitement on Facebook, Instagram so that others get to share in the excitement and joy as have on any given day at any given moment. But pictures are simply pictures. They carry bits and pieces associated with us, where we have been; who else was there etc., but they do not carry our whole selves. A picture in the phone remains a picture in a phone; it does not mean that we are fully in the phone ourselves. Our bodies, our true selves present in the flesh are very different from pictures. Where we are - we are fully present flesh and all. So, when we think about the Body of Christ, to eat and drink of Jesus’s body we are being invited to be fully present with Jesus in the flesh. David Hoyle describes that the Body of Christ is all of us together as the church who make Christ’s body.
Our life in Christ is more than a collection of pictures and icons depicting Jesus, saints and other holy things and people. Those, while beautiful in themselves simply help point to a deeper implication of what a life in Christ means. When God took on human form in the person of Jesus, God brought us closer to being one with God.
Hoyle notes further that because we all together form the Body of Christ, we are not simply associated with Jesus and God. Rather we are indistinguishable from him. God became human in the person of Jesus and by doing so, united all people to God. We know this to be true already because we know that God dwells not in some realm just beyond our reach, but rather God dwells in each one of us and in everyone we meet in our daily lives. We become the people who carry God in the world. To love another person, is also, at the same time, to love God and the Divine in that person. Loving people is more than admiring photographs of them. It is about being involved in their lives in an intimate way; to be interested in their hopes and dreams, to see, touch and hold them before us. In so doing we love God as revealed to us through them right here in the flesh where they are wholly present.
Eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ is not a literal experience. Rather this is about a transformation, one that we go through every time we come to the altar to receive communion. In participating in this sacred meal of the Eucharist we too are reminded of who’s we are, and who we truly are - the Body of Christ.
Now because there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God and that God dwells within us we get an understanding once again of the limitless ness of God. We belong to a God that knows no limits. We belong to a God that is not stingy in love, but rather who is reckless with the abundance of God’s love and confidence for us to continue to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.
Because of this abundant and limit less love of God in our lives, we realize fairly quickly of the blessings and freedoms that we enjoy in our lives. When we think about it we have resources, opportunities, food, clothing and shelter to meet all our basic needs and then some. This is a tangible example of the abundance of God’s love and grace in our lives. We are reminded once again, that with God and in God, we have more than enough in our lives for what we need, with more to share.
Because we are the hands and feet of God. Because we have more than enough for what we need with more to share, we are called and compelled to give of our abundance to those who have less. In so doing we are sharing more than just food, clothes and money. We are sharing God’s love and grace with some of God’s own. An interesting thought, so simple, and yet so radical if we think about it.
If we all lived in the world with enough resources for what we need, and shared our abundance, we begin treat others as our equals, as beloved Children of God. When we share what we have, holding up those who have less, we in turn are held up by others by the gifts and grace that they have to offer. Those who we perceive as having less, hold us up by the gifts and abundance that they have that we do not. Imagine this concept on a global scale. Does this not provide us with an understanding of God’s economy of Grace? Where we are all treated and regarded as the beloved Children of God. Using what we must for our needs and sharing our abundance. When we recognize the other as a beloved Child of God, I wonder what that would do to our local and global economy. When countries value other countries for what they have, rather than exploiting their resources for the benefit of a few, I wonder how the global economy would change.
Perhaps it is a dream. Perhaps there are too many political and old prejudices that may make this a farfetched idea. But maybe, just maybe, if we start with ourselves and what we have, recognizing others as the Body of Christ, beloved Children of God we may slowly begin to build God’s Economy of Grace in our lives, city, country and world. Cause, I believe that God’s love is nothing, if not contagious.