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Center for Action and Contemplation

The Real and Holy Presence

Friday, July 7, 2023

Episcopal priest and author Adam Bucko reminds us of the Gospel call to solidarity with the poor, who reveal Christ:  

The Christian spiritual tradition is very clear about how we are to relate to those who are fragile, who have been rejected and forgotten, and who are standing on the bread lines waiting for food. We are to see them as Christ and approach them with the same kind of reverence and willingness to say yes. This identification of Christ with the poor is such that an old Anglo-Catholic saying, often cited in the context of the slum priest movement of the 1920s, tells us that unless we are willing and able to see Christ on the highways and byways of our cities in those who are rejected, homeless, and poor, we have no business talking about meeting him in the Eucharist. Our faith cannot be complete unless we have connected the two. As one theologian said, “The real presence of Christ, which is hidden in the bread and wine, is visibly manifested in his social presence in the poor who are the sign and image of his ongoing passion in the world.” [1] 

Bucko visited a refugee camp in Greece and draws a parallel between the “Good Shepherd” Jesus and those who act in solidarity with refugees: 

In Jesus’s Parable of the Lost Sheep, we meet the Christ who is the good shepherd, who, like the thousands of volunteers who rescued those refugees from the freezing waters of the Mediterranean Sea, is there searching for those who are lost, in need of being wrapped in literal or metaphorical blankets of motherly love. We meet the One who is an open gate, not unlike the gate of that refugee camp, which made the passage to safety and care possible for so many. I love how frankly Matthew’s Gospel puts it:  

What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost (Matthew 18:12–14).

Indeed, Christ comes to us not only in prayer, not only in beautiful celebrations like those that we experience in church on the great festivals and holidays, but also in those who are hungry and thirsty for our presence and our love, in those who ask us for help. And, “our attitude towards them, or rather our commitment to them, will indicate whether or not we are directing our existence in conformity with the will of the Father.” [2] They both open the door to God’s house for us and they give us a chance to become the door for others.  


[1] Philip J. Rosato, Cena del Signore e amore sociale (Ponteranica, Bergamo, Italy: Centro Eucaristico, 1994), 83. Rosato draws from a homily given by Pope Paul VI to farmers and farmworkers in Bogotá, Colombia, on August 23, 1968. 

[2] Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics and Salvation, trans. Caridad Inda and John Eagleson (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1973), 203.  

Adam Bucko, Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide: Lessons in Engaged Contemplation (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2022), 77–78, 78–79. 

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—CAC Staff, Untitled, watercolor. Izzy Spitz, Field Study 2, oil pastel on canvas. Izzy Spitz, Everything at Once, digital oil pastel on canvas. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

Artist Statement (Izzy Spitz): “Chemistry of self” [collection of images] is a visual diary of varying emotions of my day-to-day life. It’s an act of presence in a world of existential overwhelm and grounding in the gifts of mundane life. 

Story from Our Community:  

As a Native American man, my soul shares the agony of the history of African American people in “the land of the free.” Power and greed decimate every fiber of our universe. The contemplative focus on oneness is the source of my hope—our hope—for Creator’s active imperative for healing. —Gregory H.  

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