It’s estimated that 1.4 trillion photographs will be taken in the world this year, and I wonder how many of those will be selfies! Whatever relationship we have with ourselves, however we think we look, we are often fascinated by ourselves. In a group photograph our eyes will naturally scan to find ourselves first, to check ourselves out, to see what kind of photograph we’ve given! Or perhaps we’ll take a sneaky look in the reflection of a shop window, just to check how are today!
As secretly fascinated as we are by ourselves, we are also are a mystery to ourselves! We may not know why we behave in certain ways or how we function. Some of us may have little understanding about how our own body works, how our brain functions, our mind operates, or how and why our emotions change and sometimes surprise us. Yes, sometimes, as fascinated as we are by ourselves, we are also a mystery to ourselves!
Human beings have always searched to discover more about who and what we are. Not just doctors, scientists and psychologists but philosophers and artists, too – all trying in different ways to reflect aspects of what it means to be human.
‘The mystery of who you are’
As Christians, whilst relying on all of those important people to cast light upon our what it means to be human, theologians have something extra to add. “The mystery of who you are,” said St Augustine, “is laid upon the altar.” Time for some table talk!
In the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood we experience the presence of Jesus but also see something of ourselves: who and what we are called to be. “Now we are children of God,” said St John, “and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
In our Baptism we received the gift of “union with Christ in his death and resurrection…and a new birth in God’s family, the Church.” (The Church in Wales Catechism 48) In the Holy Eucharist, this union with Christ and one another is strengthened.” (Catechism, 54)
‘You are the body of Christ’
Our faith is never an individualistic faith, a simple experience between ‘me and God.’ “You are the body of Christ,” said St Paul, “and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
Paul had first discovered the presence of Jesus in members of the Church when, as persecutor, he encountered Jesus on his way to Damascus. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ Jesus asks. (Acts 9:3) To persecute the Church is to persecute Christ, for the Church is his body, his presence in the world. By the time Paul writes to the Church in Corinth he had discovered this for himself: what it means to be in communion with Christ and one another.
The Church has been called “the extension of the Incarnation.” The Church is not just a group of people who have a few things in common, a loose association of like-minded people. In the Eucharist, we receive the body of Christ so that we may be and become the Body of Christ. We are what we eat.