News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool
Be the Body of Christ
Just recently I had lunch with a friend of mine whom I don’t see as often I would like. Angela is a retired teacher. When she was at work, she had little time for God. She went to Mass on Sunday and read each month at the liturgy because that is ‘what people did!’ Then her sister died very suddenly from leukaemia and Angela’s neat, tidy world was shattered.
They had no other relatives, so when her sister died, Angela fell apart, took early retirement and shrank into herself. She still went along to Mass on a Sunday. One day on her way to church she met a homeless drunk. She offered her some money. The woman looked at Angela and said, I’ don’t want your money, tell me your story’.
As she looked at the woman, Angela felt something break inside her. All the pain locked inside burst out and she began to sob. Soon she found herself in the arms of this woman who held her. When the tears subsided, she felt different. She began to realise that in the love of that woman, she had encountered the love of Jesus. Over the next years she was completely taken over by love. She searched for the woman but never found her again. Her search led her to soup kitchens and night shelters, and they became the focus of her life; now her whole identity is caught up in working for those in need.
I often think to myself, if you and I, who are the body of Christ, don’t respond to the needs of those who need the light of Christ, with compassion and understanding, then who will? We are called to be the healing, loving, transforming presence of Christ in the world.
I remember many years ago reading a poem about a man who had only 24 hours to live. In it, the author wrote: ‘Nothing will come in time to change this man’s life except the one surprise of being loved.’ It’s only loving acceptance that will transform people’s lives. The Gospel invites us to get our hands dirty and be in those places that Jesus would have been. Maybe some of the proposals of the Synod later this year will help us to focus on the needs of those around us.
We are called to proclaim the Gospel, in season and out of season. That is demanding and it is challenging but it is our call and not to do it is to sell short our Baptismal calling so let’s pray for courage – for the courage to be fearless proclaimers of the Gospel.
Fr Chris Thomas