And Then There's You
Making our journey through the deep and lush forest of theology, we come to a fork in the trail concerning the Body of Christ. Succinctly, one path reveals the presence of Christ in a consecrated host and the other path reveals the presence of Christ in consecrated people. These paths join in the totality of the Church. Thus, we who are the Body of Christ and are nourished by receiving the Body of Christ must live that reality within and for the whole body of humanity. As we advance along our way, it is the very mission of Christ that we perpetuate. The personal and professional courses we travel provide continuous opportunities for imparting the teachings of Christ. This fact has been stated well by Pope Leo I (the Great) in the middle of the fifth century: "The effect of our communion in the Body and Blood of Christ is that we are transformed into what we consume, and that he in whom we have died and in whom we have risen from the dead lives and is manifested in every movement of our body and of our spirit." Recognizing that each member of the Body of Christ is part of a huge, global community of believers gives comfort and encouragement to the individual Christian in standing for Christ.
A profound example of individual strength drawn from the spiritual unity of the Body of Christ is found in the life of Saint Thomas More. He courageously accepted a martyr's death for the sake of the integrity and the unity of the Church. As the subject of Robert Bolt's play and subsequent movie A Man for All Seasons, Thomas More stands for the faith against the power of King Henry VIII of England and the personal and political pressures surrounding him. His beliefs and his vocation were beautifully intermingled. As a lawyer, judge and ultimately Chancellor of England, Thomas More had an established reputation for honesty, fairness, and incorruptibility. When Henry VIII demanded that his subjects swear an oath that supported his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his assumed title in opposition to the Pope as Head of the Church of England, Sir Thomas More stood firm in the dictates of his conscience and in his loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church. This stand caused the loss of his position at Court and brought many hardships to his family. His faith remained steadfast against every political stratagem, his imprisonment, and his death. The lesson is taught in his final words at his execution. "I die the king's good servant, but God's first." In the year 1998 throughout the world there 39 members of the Church who suffered martyrdom. The Body of Christ still bleeds.
The presence of Christ is felt constantly on the world stage. The helping and healing hands of the Body of Christ touch a bruised and disheartened world. The people who are the Church have contributed overwhelming amounts of time, money and effort to effect the immense local and international charitable work of the Church. This mission has not gone unnoticed by those outside of the Body of Christ. Recently, the famous actor Paul Newman, a member of the Jewish faith, made a contribution of a quarter of a million dollars to the Catholic Relief Services for the benefit of the refugees fleeing from the war in Kosovo. When asked about the donation, he related that Catholic Relief Services was the appropriate recipient because they (CRS) were there and have been working in the area since 1992; he felt confident that they would make the most efficient use of the funds.
Our Lord told us that we must eat his body and drink his blood so that he may live in us and that we may proclaim him by our deeds. With this truth in our hearts, we are the ones who must fulfill this beautiful work in the living of each day. Once again, I am brought to the life of Saint Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons. Henry VIII desperately wants the support of Thomas More; a man the king knows to be a true friend. He reveals to Thomas More: "There are those like Norfolk who follow me because I wear the crown; there are those like Cromwell who follow me because they are jackals with sharp teeth and I'm their tiger; there's a mass that follows me because it follows anything that moves;....and then, there's you." People may find in others greed, envy, treachery, maliciousness, Godlessness,...and then, there's You.
copyright © 1999-2005, Spirituality for Today