The theme for this week in school is “The Body of Christ” – we are currently deep into the season for Confirmation and First Communion celebrations which mark a new beginning in the lives of those who receive these sacraments on their Christian journey…
My daughter is excitedly preparing for her First Communion celebrations this weekend… this ranks as highly as the anticipation of the BGT final and the longing for Christmas or Birthday celebrations (pretty high overall!). Initially the focus for her was the prospect of a new dress and shoes – we had to persuade her high heels, a veil and lace gloves may be a little bit of a distraction on the day and were pleased when the Priest suggested simplicity was the way forward for them all.
The Eucharist lies at the centre of Christian faith in an act of thanksgiving. The distinctive belief in the Catholic tradition is that in the mystery of the consecration the bread and wine are transformed into Jesus’ Body and Blood – a real presence amongst us and ultimately an invitation for Christ to be “at one” with us. But how can we live this out day to day?
As it suggests in this song, which is based on the prayer of St Téresa of Avila, “Christ has no body on earth but yours”. We are challenged to be a living witness to the message of Jesus and have a faith that has a direct impact on our lifestyles and actions. Recently I was challenged to really think about how we can do this in the world we live in today.
On Tuesday last week we had a Year 8 trip that went to Boulogne to immerse themselves in French culture and life, by all accounts it was a great day as usual. When we welcomed the students back they were greeted by loving families who took them home safely to be fed and a night in a bed followed by returning the next day to the privilege of an education at a school like St Paul’s.
Perhaps we take these “basics” for granted. As all the students drifted off we found another young person had stowed away under the coach on our return – he was called Mohammed and was from Darfur, he was between 14 and 16 and it brought home the issues of immigration in a very human way. He felt lost, vulnerable and disorientated and in reality was no different to the children in our school…
- What had his life been like in Darfur to be willing to risk his life to escape?
- How must it feel as a child to face life without anything? His sole possessions were a leather jacket, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- What does life hold for him next?
An insight into the experiences in Darfur shows us what this might have been like to force Mohammed from all that he knew – friends, family and security. In essence this is the journey Jesus took – he was born in vulnerable and humble conditions on the margins of society. He faced risks, sacrifices and challenges in His life so maybe we should find Christ most present in these very situations.
A few questions to pose to ourselves include;
- What does it mean to be a disciple today?
- How can all of us reach out to the most vulnerable in the world we live in?
- What can we do to challenge those around us to think about the human story?
In a very basic way I pray today for Mohammed, and every person in his position, that he will be safe and be able to build a better future and life. May we also offer a prayer of thanks for the all we may take for granted in our lives – take a moment to thank those people around us who provide this security, love and hope.
If we can do any of this I believe we truly become part of the Body of Christ.