BY ED SLOANE | June 7, 2021
This Sunday, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This solemnity is an opportunity to reflect upon the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharistic bread and wine. By extension, this Solemnity reminds Catholics of the Church’s vocation to be the Body of Christ in and for the world together with all Christians and in solidarity with all people of good will. This theological concept can feel irrelevant. It is often reduced to a transaction or, worse, a magic trick performed by the Holy Spirit, and most Catholics have disregarded this aspect of faith. At its best, this belief calls us to reflection on our human bodies.
How can Catholics reclaim a belief in the real presence in a way that speaks words of hope and love as a protest against the structures of sin today that abuse, violate, and denigrate bodies?
As I prayed with this Sunday’s readings, I meditated on all the ways in which bodies are denigrated through racialization, sexual abuse and violence, and body shaming, or because of differing ability, who we love, or gender identity. I forced myself to look at my own body in the mirror. I looked at photos of friends and their bodies.
The real presence is God’s response to the ways in which bodies are denigrated, violated, and objectified. It is God’s response to the ways in which I have been taught to hate certain aspects of my own body. In protest, God continues to make Godself incarnate in the world today.
As Church, the real presence calls us, personally and collectively, to bear witness to and with those who suffer physical, emotional, and spiritual trauma because of how dominator society regards and treats their body.
Eucharist means thanksgiving. And it is for bodies that we, ultimately, give thanks. We do so despite a Church and society that falls short of these aspirations. We honor in a special way all bodies who share the fate of Christ’s body, humiliated and abused for the threat they pose to structures of power. The real presence is thanksgiving for Black bodies, Indigenous bodies, differently abled bodies, gay bodies, trans bodies, and bodies of all shapes, sizes, and hues. My body; your body. In offering a sign of peace, we approach one another in our bodily particularities and express our common kinship. In breaking bread, we nourish and care for our own bodies and for each other’s bodies. Today, take a moment to thank God for all the ways you are beautifully made, imago dei.
Ed Sloane is originally from West Virginia. He serves as the board chair for the Catholic Committee of Appalachia and received his Ph.D. in religious education and pastoral ministry at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. His writing focuses on approaches to education in faith through the lens of ecological justice and place-based learning. Ed is also a high school theology teacher.
God has created each one of us in a beautiful way. Personally he has given me so much that I cry out like the psalmist: “What shall I return to the Lord for all He has given me….” He gave me life and light through my Baptism. He has given me joy through the teaching profession is which from the beginning I was able and thrilled to celebrate diversity and inclusion. We were a University that thought about the needs of others: whether giving an extra text to a student, filling up their gas tank, taking them home to stay with the family for some time….all these aspects of teaching are part of the beautiful way. My sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren add to the beauty of creation. I am also thankful for the many friends and priests I’ve met whether in the United States or Abroad that made me thankful for their part in my life. I am grateful to my children and grandchildren and deceased husband for the many joys that they have and continue to bring to my life. I am grateful for the plethora of books that have brought me unbridled intellectual stimulation. I am grateful for the discussions I’ve had with students and my sons’ friends who talk about their spiritual life with honor and joy and sometimes humor. I am grateful to Ignatius and all the Jesuits who help us to live and believe in the Exercises as well as bring justice to a world that longs for it.
Our creator constantly and consistently outdoes himself in His goodness and kindness to me and all of us. All we need to do is notice! I love you, Lord of Hosts and Mother Mary and the saints. Thank you for continuing to be with us.
I am struggling with the church and their lack of acknowledgement for the horrific torture, abuse, and theft of treaty funds to and from Native families and children. It’s like the sex abuse scandal all over except 10x worse- 10x more children, 10x more disturbing and it’s brown children so no one seems to care- talk about this! Acknowledgement, apology, actio is needed!
Sarah, I am heartedly sorry for your pain. It is such a deep pain that feels like our skin is being ripped off our body. Pray to the Holy Spirit and I will pray with you for these atrocities. We need to ask the Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit to assist all who have endured this horrific time. Mother Mary hold them in a strong embrace…love them, care for them and help them to love others.
Human beings are made in the image and likeness of the divine – declare Scriptures. Structures of power like heavy yokes are always upheld by fellow mortals. Women and men toiling to uphold those brutal power structures are hungering and thirsting to be humanized. It is a duty and a call for all of us to liberate and humanize our fellow brethren, reeling under the yoke of upholding inhuman power structures that sadly decimate the crusher and the crushed.