God’s Body

This Is My Body

God’s Body
Sunday, March 3, 2019

As I shared earlier, the prologue to John’s Gospel gives us a wonderful vision of the Christ Mystery. [1] John uses the word Logos, which I take to mean blueprint. It is the inner pattern of reality, revealed in Jesus and in creation. Let’s take a closer look:

In the beginning was the blueprint. The blueprint was with God. The blueprint was God. And all things came to be through this inner plan. [The inner reality of God is manifest in the outer material world. That is why we can consider creation to be the Body of God.] No one thing came to be except through this blueprint and plan. All that came to be had life in him. [Now it’s become personalized: in him, in Jesus. So, this great universal mystery since the beginning of time now becomes specific in the body and the person of Jesus. The blueprint has become personified and visible.] And that life was the light of humanity (John 1: 1-3).

At the Last Supper, when Jesus held up the bread and spoke the words “This is my Body,” I believe he was speaking not just about the bread right in front of him, but about the whole universe, about every thing that is physical, material, and yet also spirit-filled. His assertion and Christians’ repetition resound over all creation before they also settle into one piece of bread to be shared. The bread and wine, and all of creation, seem to believe who and what they are much more readily than humans do. They know they are the Body of Christ, even if many Homo sapiens resist and even deny such a thought. When celebrants speak these sacred words at the altar, they are speaking them to both the bread and the congregation—so they can carry it “to all of creation” (Mark 16:15). As St. Augustine (354–430 CE) preached, we must feed the Body of Christ to the people of God until they know that they are what they eat! [2]

We also are the Body of Christ, as is all of the universe. The Apostle Paul used a perfect metaphor: “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. . . . Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27). I love to think of every flowing stream, every waterfall, and every river as “baptizing” the physical universe, washing away its inability to know how glorious it is. (Read a few Mary Oliver poems if you want to get the same message.)

References:
[1] See, for example, “In the Beginning,” https://cac.org/in-the-beginning-2019-02-18/.

[2] Drawn from Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 272, “On the day of Pentecost to the Infantes, on the Sacrament.” Text available at https://stanselminstitute.org/files/Augustine,%20Sermon%20272.pdf.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Christ, Cosmology & Consciousness: A Reframing of How We See (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010), MP3 download; and

The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 131-132.

Image credit: Eucharistic Bread, painting in the early Christian catacomb of Saint Callixtus, Rome, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The Eucharist is an encounter of the heart, knowing Presence through our own offered presence. In the Eucharist, we move beyond mere words or rational thought and go to that place where we don’t talk about the Mystery anymore; we begin to chew on it. Jesus did not say, “Think about this” or “Stare at this” or even “Worship this.” Instead he said, “Eat this!” —Richard Rohr

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