“We can boost our immune systems
by strengthening our social networks and decreasing stress.
Jane Mc Gonigal
The fact that Jane Mc Gonigal is a designer of alternate reality games may lift an eyebrow, but her point remains well taken. As someone who has struggled with eczema his entire life, I have first-hand knowledge: Stress attacks the body at its weakest part.
If you find this to be an unconventional way of beginning an article on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ - welcome first-time reader. Perhaps glancing again at the picture at the top of the page will help you refocus. Young hands, neatly but not overly manicured holding a carefully broken host and a glimmering gold chalice.
While the next picture, Christ hanging on the cross formed out of multiple pictures may be less conventional, it is certainly not controversial. What caption would you use? I’ve decided to use the words of a Nigerian preacher who chose the Ukraine as where he would spread the gospel message.
“Every Christian has their place in the body of Christ”
Consider a more traditional representation. “Calvary” was painted by Maerten van Heemskerck, a 16th century dutch painter who spent a portion of his life in Rome. In addition to Jesus we see the two thieves who were crucified with him. The unnamed one on his left and Dismas on his right. Do you remember Jesus’ response when Dismas asks Jesus to remember him? Did you know that Dismas was named a saint?
“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The commentary of Miroslav Volf, a professor of Theology at Yale is a bit dense but worth our consideration. Here is a paraphrase.
Christ on the cross:
* identifies God with the victims of violence (and)
* identifies the victims with God,
so that they (the victims) are put under God's protection
and….. given the rights of which they have been deprived.
Here is my takeaway:
- Like Dismas, we all receive our identity from Christ.
- Each of our pictures make up the Mosaic known as The Body of Christ.
Even the weakest members of the body.
The sinners striving to be saints as well as the saints whose sins have been justified by faith.
All who suffer because of violence. Those who protect the victims - and those who are victimized by the protectors. They must not stand alone and they do not stand alone. Because the body of Christ stands with them.
The Christian, however, must bear the burden of a brother. He must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated. The burden of men was so heavy for God Himself that He had to endure the Cross. God verily bore the burden of men in the body of Jesus Christ. But He bore them as a mother carries her child, as a shepherd enfolds the lost lamb that has been found. God took men upon Himself and they weighted Him to the ground, but God remained with them and they with God. In bearing with men God maintained fellowship with them. It was the law of Christ that was fulfilled in the Cross. And Christians must share in this law. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer