Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Where is the presence of Christ?

I once preached on this, in relation to the story of the road to Emmaus. And I still want to say something close to it. That Christ is found everywhere his ministry is continued, everywhere his actions are imitated, everywhere his gestures are followed.

I certainly want to uphold a high sacramental position within the Church as the Body of Christ for the life of the world. Too often it seems people are all too ready to jump the ecclesial body and find Christ in the world, separate out the Church and the Kingdom, instead of distinguishing between them. This lead to a lot of misguided political activity.

And yet I do in a sense want to locate the body of Christ beyond the sacramental body (in the Eucharist) which makes the ecclesial body (as the Church). I want this because the story of the Road to Emmaus, with the disciples eyes being opened to see Christ is not merely a Eucharistic reflection, but a continuation of Jesus’ own hospitable table fellowship. And even the narratives of the Last Supper are not merely institution narratives which begin the Eucharistic practice, nor are is it an elaboration on Passover or the Day of Atonement, but they are continuations of Jesus’ revolutionary table fellowship, a radical hospitality toward the loss, excluded, and marginalized. And this table fellowship becomes both the test of discipleship in Matthew 25 (the Sheep and the Goats) as well as the test of the presence of Christ. In Matthew 25 it is not only a question of who are the true disciples (those that mimic and extend Jesus’ table fellowship and hospitality through the giving of food, drink, clothing, and time), but in this process of being like Jesus we discern the presence of Jesus.

But again, I don’t want to disconnect this discernment of Christ in the world from the Eucharistic discernment of Christ in the Sacrament. Indeed to do so is to loss the resources of both discerning Christ and power to be like Christ. Therefore to know Christ’s body (in the world) one must first be Christ Body (in the Church).

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