Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ
Children today seem to be dealing with certain issues at earlier ages. What was once considered in the past to be more of an adolescent issue may now be experienced in the primary or intermediate grades. “They’re only in 2nd grade,” or “They’re only in 5th grade,” are common remarks that I hear in the faculty room as teachers talk about negative peer pressure and concerns regarding low self-esteem.
There’s no doubt that children have it rough. We can place the blame lots of places. Families do the best they can, but many children do not come from very stable homes. Models in magazines and on TV keep getting skinnier. Advertising wants us to see our flaws so that we have a need for their product. Whatever the excuses we come up with, the truth is that we often do not see the beauty within ourselves, and consequently, compare ourselves to others. Comparison can lead to feelings of failure, low self-esteem, low self confidence, or defensive behaviors such as jealousy and judgment of others. We may spend our time trying to be like someone else rather than the person we are called to be.
It is easy to lose sight of our beauty. To lose sight of who we are and who we are called to be. We may obsess over our weight, our social or professional status, our inabilities, or our appearance, but do we know who we are? We are the Body and Blood of Christ. We are God’s creation.
Before coming to the monastery, I worked with children who were mentally challenged. Someone once asked me, “Why do you want to do that? With all your work and effort, you won’t have much to show for it.” If I look at the progress of each child, that person was right. With all my work and effort, there really was not much visible progress.
I spent days, if not weeks, trying to get one child with autism to simply wave and say the word “Mama.” I kept going for the mom’s sake. I taught another child how to respond to simple questions, such as “What is you name?” and “How old are you?”
It was challenging and the progress was often slow or unnoticeable. The knowledge I gained, however, was invaluable. Here was the Body of Christ. Pure, without need for comparison, without any concept of low self-esteem.
I worked with another child who had Down’s syndrome. Was she aware of what she could not do? Possibly. Did she belittle herself or others because of her lack of ability. Not to my knowledge or observation. She was the person she was called to be. She seemed to love others wholeheartedly and delighted in simple pleasures. She honored God by using her gifts to the best of her ability. Here was the Body of Christ for others.
I remember one summer, absorbed in trying to map out the rest of my life. I was worried about finances and which college classes to take. A hundred things were spinning around in my head. At the time, I was working at a camp with an adult who was mentally and physically challenged. The camp was coming to a close, so I asked him, “What are your plans for the future?” “Well,” he said, “I guess I’ll go home and make a sandwich. Then I may take a nap.” My mind was swimming with the 100 things necessary for the months and years yet to come. He simply delighted in the here and now. Here was the Body of Christ. Pure, simple, living in the now.
The progress I made when I worked with those who were mentally challenged may not have been earth shattering or even noticeable. The knowledge I gained, however, moved mountains.
Be who you are called to be. Without comparing. Without belittling yourself or others.
This, I believe, is how we can truly celebrate this feast – the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. The feast where we recognize the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, in our brothers and sisters, and in ourselves.
Don’t we know who we are? We are the Body and Blood of Christ. We are broken, poured out, and given to others.