Body Of Christ
Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: May 31, 2020
“But I’m just a small piece of coloured stone”!
Picture a small square or rectangle of coloured stone or glass about 10mm or ½” in size talking to another small piece and making this statement.
A small piece with its own colour, lustre, translucency, and texture.
This is what I imagine two or more stones from a beautiful mosaic saying to each other during their daily chat.
“How can I be important?” “I am not noticeable”, or “I am too small to matter.”
And yet, when we observe a mosaic image in a church, we see so much more.
In our trip last year to Italy, we saw amazing mosaics over 1000 years old, still with their shine, still able to evoke our emotions and touch our souls.
In our own parish we have beautiful mosaic stations of the cross at Our Lady of Lourdes site.
These stations from what we can tell are over 70 years old and were hand made in Italy using techniques such as burlap to reinforce the concrete backing.
The craftsmanship and beauty ensured that we would not abandon these pieces of art when we make our move to the new parish site. They have been restored and enhanced to allow another 70 years of parishioners to have their own hearts and souls impacted.
This image of little individual stones inside a larger picture, is the message that the readings today on this feast of Pentecost convey to us.
Many times, in our lives, I am sure we feel like individual Christians, small, insignificant and having no impact on the live and faith of the church.
But these feelings would be wrong.
Just like the individual stones, we are all individuals, no two the same, and we each make up a key component of the entire mosaic of the church.
St. Paul gives this same message to the Corinthians and to us “brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed”.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
What a powerful message for us! Each of us as individuals has a unique gift, a special service, a strength for activity in the church.
Each of us gets to sparkle with our own colour, lustre, translucency and texture.
In order to bring forth the power of the Holy Spirit in us for the common good!
Our little stone, or piece of marble is a part of the greater mosaic of God’s love that is the church in the world today.
And just like 4 or 5 stones in a mosaic make an image of an eye or a smile; when we bring our gifts together with others, we can bring talents together for an RCIA program, or a way to feed the poor.
We may think that our stone doesn’t matter, but if you look at a mosaic, if a stone is missing, then the image does not have the same effect!
Each of us is called, each of us is loved, each of us is important to the Body of Christ.
Just as all apostles received the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they didn’t end up having the same mission.
St. Peter went to Syria and Rome, St. John to Turkey, Simon and Jude to Armenia and St. Thomas to India.
We are the same! We bring our gifts and talents of prayer, wisdom, knowledge, faith, joy and love to unique places. One brings it to Dofasco, another to McMaster, another to Limeridge Mall, another to the hospital, etc.
And the beauty is that when all of us are seen together as a whole image, the world sees the Christian faith and the love of God being done to make the world a better place and to bring the kingdom of God to the here and now.
The gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is the same we received at our baptisms and you can picture it as the concrete in the mosaic that binds all the pieces together!
When we proclaim in the psalm – send out your Spirit O Lord and renew the face of the earth, it is we who are sent out. The psalm does not speak of this as a one-time thing, but a continuous process.
This appearance of the mosaic also helps us understand the Body of Christ and the church itself.
Sometimes we may focus on one part of the image only and miss the whole thing. If we are focused on a particular challenge of the church like some of the recent abuses, or a rule or law we don’t like; then we can miss the entire picture, like the growth of the faith in southern hemisphere and the power of love that is shown.
If we focus on the current trials and tribulations in North America, we would miss what I saw in India with 500 children singing acapella the morning hymns in a rural church in India; or the Sunday mass at 7am in Zimbabwe with the church bursting and the children seated all over the sanctuary as there was no other space.
This is one thing I love about Pope Francis – he has us focused to the peripheries – he has nominated cardinals from the farthest corners of the world in order to ensure every part of the mosaic is seen, not just the middle.
The mosaic of the faith over 2000 years has had ups and downs, highs and lows, but through it all the gospel, the Good News of Christ continues to grow, and love and peace continue to shine forth.
So, what can we do individually? In the advice of St. Catherine of Siena – “be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!”
This is great guidance for us when we look inwards sometimes and say:
“But I’m just a small piece of coloured stone”
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: August 19, 2018
Think for a moment, the all powerful God, the Creator of the universe, chose to become one of us, to become so weak, to be vulnerable, entering our human life and death. This is the incredible humility of God. It is Faith that allows us to see the face of God in this Jesus.
Jesus describes himself as the bread of life. It is Faith that allows us to see that the Eucharist is not just bread, but the living presence of Jesus. The humility of the all powerful God is seen in this as well, Jesus becomes so weak as to be held in our hands, in a sense to be cared by us as we are to receive with reverence. Seeing Jesus in the bread of the Eucharist, this is Faith.
But, we are also to see Christ present in the weakness of the poor. That also requires Faith, to find and see Jesus in the poor, in the difficult people in our life.
The person who is unemployed and in the struggles drinks too much. Some might look at them and call them lazy and irresponsible and not deserving of our care. Are we able to see the face of Jesus?
The person struggling with depression. Some might look at them with no understanding and complain about their lack of effort. Are we able to see the face of Jesus?
The person who commits murder. Some might look and say they do not deserve to live, wanting Capital Punishment. Our Church has stated that Capital Punishment is not the solution and that even a person who commits murder remains a human being who is capable of redemption. Are we able to see the face of Jesus?
The person who is sick and dying with cancer. Some do not want to see this weakness and illness. Are we able to see the face of Jesus?
The person who is a refugee from a country or religion we are not comfortable with. Some would want to reject them. Are we able to see the face of Jesus?
It is possible for us when looking at human beings in difficult places in life, to see them as things, as objects, they often lose their self respect, we see them as less than human. Our Faith calls us to find and see the face of Jesus.
Think of Jesus on the Cross, covered with blood and spittle and sweat, executed as a criminal, how difficult to see and recognize the Christ in this Jesus.
As we see the real presence of Jesus in the bread of the Eucharist, we are to see the real presence of Jesus in the appearance of human misery.
How surprising where we find and see the Christ. In bread, in the poor.
There is statue of a homeless man laying on a bench. But, when you look closely at the statue you see the wounds in his hands of the crucified Christ. Where do we fail to recognize Jesus in the people around us?
A bishop in Brazil told a story of a Sister coming a long way from an isolated hospital. She came by foot to the bishop to tell him that they had no chaplain and he hadn’t had the joy of receiving Christ in communion for a long time. So, first the bishop gave her communion, then he reminded her: “Dear Sister you spend your days with the living Christ, you are there with the sick, there are Christ. You handle Christ with your own hands. This is another Eucharist, the living presence of Christ.”
I think some times of the spouse whose elderly husband is sick and unable to leave their home. She is unable to get to church for Mass because she needs to stay and care for him and there is no one to relieve her. Is she really missing communion with Jesus the bread of Life?
Jesus, the bread of life. We need Faith to see him in the bread consecrated at this Mass. We also need Faith to see the face of Christ in the poor, the sick, the difficult people in our life.