“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.” – St. Teresa of Avila
My parish pastor reminded the congregation of these wise words from St. Teresa several weeks ago. As the pastor read these words to us before our communal celebration of Eucharist, I began to question how well I and my fellow Catholics are reflecting Jesus’ teachings each day.
For instance, would we Catholics, serving as Jesus’ hands, support pulling immigrant children from their parents based on the parents’ decision to try to escape real and imminent danger by crossing the border without waiting for decades for legal authority to do so? Or would we better serve Jesus by caring for those children and their parents and pleading with our congressional delegation to provide more aid to families in countries where violence and poverty reign and opening more doors for immigration?
Likewise, would Jesus use his feet to kick the downtrodden or addicted in Salt Lake City? Or would he use feet and hands to help raise people up, even if that means raising the same person over and over as they continue to relapse? Would we be better servants of Christ if we use our hands and feet and eyes to care for the homeless, or seek to move them out of our line of sight?
Who would Jesus “smack down,” call derogatory names or mock on social media? Who would Jesus want us to hate? Who would Jesus want us to kill? To see as a lesser human being? To see as undeserving of a life of dignity, or any life at all?
My pastor’s homily forced me to reflect on these rather uncomfortable questions. While difficult, I encourage all of us to ask ourselves regularly, if my body is Jesus’ only means of acting on Earth, how can I best use it to serve his purposes?
The answers clearly won’t be by prioritizing my own comfort and convenience and safety over all others. Or treating my body as more sacred and special than anyone else’s. If I realize that I am not serving well as Jesus’ hands if those hands are wrapped around a product made through forced child labor or a deadly weapon held in anger, I might actually become the person God created me to be.
It is the rare human being who hasn’t found at least a moment or two when hearing the Gospel was far easier than living it. Becoming someone who truly lives their daily life with St. Teresa’s words in mind is not an easy or smooth process, but doing so just might help us build a more just and peaceful world.
Jean Hill is director of the Diocese of Salt Lake City’s Peace & Justice Commission.