The Buddhist teacher Charlotte Joko Beck asks her students, “How do we place our cushions? How do we brush our teeth? How do we sweep the floor, or slice a carrot? We think that we are here to deal with more important issues, such as problems with our partners, our jobs, our health, and the like. We don’t want to bother with the little things, like how we hold our chopsticks, or where we place our spoons. Yet these acts are the stuff of our life, moment to moment. It’s not a question of importance, it’s a question of paying attention, being aware. Why? Because each moment in life is absolute in itself. That’s all there is.”
I’m quoting a Buddhist to speak about the Body of Christ because she gets so well at the truth that our awareness of the Incarnation of Jesus is meant to become pervasive, explicit to the point of realizing the totality of our life as saturated with the Divine. That is what this feast celebrates, God in Christ again and again humbly revealing God’s self in the most common of matter for the sake of love. This is why we live the shape of life that we do: the whole monastic project is focused on learning to discern this Body, seeking and finding Jesus in the midst of the ordinary—especially in our neighbors.
God has fixed it so that our salvation requires a relationship with common stuff, and relationship with other persons constituted by this stuff, the Body of Christ, the communion of saints. St Paul writes to a wounded church of the necessity of properly discerning the Body of Christ present in the common table fellowship of the Eucharist, and no less present in our Christian brothers and sisters. The ministry of reconciliation demands that we go further still and discern the Body of Christ as he presents himself to us in every human being. Whether they advert to it explicitly or not, this is what our friends demonstrating in the streets over the last year are getting at.
The mercy of God is such that we get to cooperate in our own healing—what we do has something to say about what we become. So we have asked God to “grant us so to venerate the sacred mysteries of his Body and Blood, that we may ever perceive within ourselves,” and within others, “the fruit of his redemption.”