lectio divina: mt 16:13–20

You asked your disciples, who do you say that I am. And this is a good question, to which Peter gave the only good answer, you are the Christ, the son of the living God. You have been asking me the same question and I gave you a strange answer, or rather you gave me one.

I might as well say it here: you are kind in an age that is cruel, and you are punished for it, incessantly. I should be able to withstand Mass so much more easily if it were all symbolic. To think your body is broken while we all stare you down. Every time I look at you on the altar I remember what you told Beata Conchita about the pain you feel when a sacrilegious priest celebrates the Eucharist. When they consecrate they do not say ‘This is the body of Jesus,’ but rather ‘This is my body, my blood.’ How horrible, you confided in her, it is to be joined to a body that reviles yours. In persona Christi: to make your personhood vulnerable to abuse. You know what it is to have your person violated, to have someone force themselves upon you with so little care, such utter indifference, absent all tenderness or even fear. You are God, and you are man, and both are assaulted on the altar and out in the world, in your image and in your liturgical presence, every time some demonic arrogant soul proclaims that sort of possession. This is my body. Not yours.

These days, I say that you are among those hurt by all of this. We have always called you Victim and we are so slow to understand what that means, how that feels, what your justice will look like. I say you too.

Peter gave the better answer, I know. And you promised him in return that the powers of hell should not prevail against us—or rather, against you. It’s complicated: you said they shall not prevail against your church. Who is that? Who are you? For we use this term so carelessly, body of Christ, adding mystical like that will bandage our injuries to the Church and to each other and to you. Mystical, we emphasize, as if the spirit could not feel pain.

I return to your promise: The powers of hell shall not prevail against your body. The powers of hell shall not prevail against ours. You ordered your disciples that day not to tell anyone who you were. I’m sure you had your reasons then, but you said no such thing to me.

Published by Catherine Addington

I am a translator from Spanish to English and a writer on saints, myths, and icons in both religious and secular contexts.

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