Somewhere in our world, there is a baby cradled safely in a mother’s arms, surrounded and protected by love that defies all explanations. Somewhere, there is an adult child gently stroking the hand of a dying parent, an escort on the final steps of a long journey. Somewhere, there are essential workers expending every energy on the safety and care of the suffering, the forlorn, the forgotten. Imagine the love that drives and shapes each scenario actually pervading other interactions. Imagine we were able to transcend differences, link to commonalities, and choose to do the right thing.
This week’s Gospel reading, from Matthew 10, posits such a possibility. The phrases are powerful and challenging, but the essence of each line suggests that differences have always been divisive. And yet, the message is clear. “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” There, within each of us, the divine resides. It is up to each of us to live like that, to dare to welcome and to celebrate that reality. Teresa of Avila pulled it together with a slightly different perspective.
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
That perspective is the reminder of what it means to be a Christian, a follower of Christ. It is to become Christ himself for others, to be far more than an image and truly bring the presence of God to another human being. It is a call to be the best self at all times: to be generous, kind, truthful, empathetic, and purposeful. It is to remember, in all humility, that making Christ manfest to one another is a critical resposibility of all Christians. In any and every interaction, there is that chance to look compassion on the world, walk to do good, to bless all the world.
Now more than ever, that message can make a dramatic difference in the world that we live in. The divisive rhetoric, labelling and accusations, fearful exchanges, threats and destruction dominate so much of contemporary conversation. But this Gospel message asks for more, asks for the pause to think about what really matters. Teresa of Avila provides that more in her thinking about Christ’s presence in the world. Listening, embracing and living the message is a daily challenge for every Christian. To live that challenge demands a real consciousness of other, an attentiveness that places other first and self second. It is the very selflessness that Christ brought to the world. Listening, caring, doing, are redemptive acts. It is time to imagine a new world, one where the discord and the drama are left behind and the presence of God can be experienced in every interaction. Imagine what a world like that could look like.