Life poured out

It is a time for anniversaries: the Titanic, the Queen’s Jubilee and, in two years, the First World War. When that last one comes it will also be noted that in a forgotten corner of the planet, Antarctica, 28 men led by Sir Ernest Shackleton, struggled to survive the demolition of their ship in the ice for 18 months and succeeded. I hope it is celebrated for it is almost impossible for those who live in hot climates to imagine the conditions in which they trudged across the floating ice dr

They had to fight the cold and the wind. They eventually got a ship through, on the fourth attempt, to their friends on Elephant Island and rescued them. Not one man was lost.

We can all recall stories of epic heroism such as the one above; but also ordinary every day heroism by countless individuals who give their lives without sparing for others. This week some of us celebrate a festival called Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ. It is a moment when we stop to ponder something that we may have rushed over in Holy Week. For example, in writing of the suffering of Jesus, Mark suddenly says, “he took some bread, said the blessing and said ‘take it, this is my body.’ In a similar way he then took the cup and said, ‘this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which will be poured out for (you).”

There is no way we can neatly describe what is happening here. It is not like saying; Jesus took water, boiled it and prepared food for his disciples. In teaching children we can say Jesus gives us his body and blood as heavenly (or spiritual) food. But what does that mean?

Jesus wanted to nourish his followers with his own life; he invited people to draw on the same sources that he drew on. In phrase after phrase, especially in John’s gospel, he pushes out the invitation to ‘live in me as I live in the Father.… If you love me you will make your home in me and my Father and I will make our home in you.’ The whole thrust of these final words of Jesus, combined as they are with his giving us his Body and Blood, is that he wants us to share in his pouring out of his life for us. This means, as all the great men and women of the Christian story proclaim, that we become fully human and even share in the divine life,when we too in some way pour out our life, as wine is poured out, for others.

It goes without saying that it is not only Christians who give their lives in this way. Anyone who gives everything that others may survive is sharing in this. – Ngomakurira

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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