Body of Christ
“The Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body…” – 1 Corinthians 11:23-24
The Central African Republic (CAR) is rife with anti-Muslim violence. Christians are the ones doing the killing there. Politics is tangled up in it, but religion drives the mayhem.
Christians don’t have a corner on religious violence, of course. Elsewhere, Muslims bomb Christian churches, Hindus hunt down Buddhists, Buddhists terrorize Muslims, and just about everyone persecutes Jews.
But Christians are the only ones who take communion. Only Christians step over bodies they maimed with machetes to receive the Body of Christ. Only Christians pray at the table, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Only Christians exchange Christ’s Peace, hear the words, “The Body of Christ”, extend their hands for bread, and say, “Amen.”
You and I aren’t murdering Muslims in the CAR. But you don’t have to kill or want to kill to make communion a sham. You just have to receive the Body as if it has nothing to do with actual bodies. You just have to regard communion as a “spiritual experience” untethered to earth.
Jesus gave us bread to eat, saying, “This is my body.” He wasn’t being spiritual. We commune with a real body that was tortured and slain. We’re meant to discern it, to eat it, and by our eating vow, “No more.”
Communion has many different meanings, but in these violent days the broken bread must at least be our way of declaring, “One broken body is enough.”
May the only body we ever break be your bread, O Christ. In our eating, pledge us to the end of violence visited on any body, anywhere, for any reason. Amen.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.