The Broken Body of the Church

Posted on January 2, 2012


The broken Body of the Church
is the source of so many tears.
Maybe today Christians are not fully one
in their beliefs, their organization and their structures.
But they can be one in their love
and in their yearning to follow Jesus,
not always knowing the path ahead,
which will be revealed little by little by the Spirit.
They can be one
as together they walk down the ladder with Jesus,
meeting Jesus in the poorest and the weakest.
It is true
that Christians cannot all eat today around the same table
of the broken bread,
transformed into the Body of Christ,
but they can eat together
around the same table
with the poor and the weak.
Is not this the most direct path to unity?

It is true that Christians of different traditions
cannot drink today from the same chalice
of the blood of Christ
but we can all drink together
from the same chalice of suffering:
the sufferings of division
of brokenness in our world.
Together we can pour the sweet oil of compassion
upon the wounds of humanity
Unity will come
not only around the treasure of the body of Jesus
his broken, risen body
hidden in the Eucharist,
but also through the treasure of the broken body of Jesus
in the poor.

The Eucharist,
and the washing of the feet of wounded people,
the broken body of Christ,
are in some ways
the same reality:
one giving meaning to the other,
one flowing from the other.

Jean Vanier
(1928- ) French Canadian Catholic philosopher and founder of l’Arche communities which serve persons with mental disabilities.
The Broken Body, London, Darton, Longman & Todd, 1988, pp. 132-33

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