Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Christ: In the Flesh

I am blessed to have an awesome internship in the same city as my college, which means that I get to stay here over the summer and continue with it. Hurray! One cool aspect of the job is that I frequently get to read the writings of the Popes, particularly of Pope Francis.

As I was skimming through Pope Francis’ most recent encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium, in hopes of finding a quote to use with one of the magazine articles I was copyediting, I stumbled across this gem: “God’s word teaches that our brothers and sisters are the prolongation of the incarnation for each of us: ‘As you did it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:40).”

This is a profound idea—that each person I meet is Christ. Because that’s what Pope Francis means when he says that each one is “the prolongation of the incarnation.” The Pope really isn’t saying anything new, because the Church has always taught that each person is made in the image and likeness of God, but the way that he says this made me stop and think about the idea more fully.

When I desire to experience Christ physically present, my first instinct is to go to the Eucharist, since God has truly shown me that He is present within that tiny host. But if each person that I meet is “the prolongation of the incarnation,” then Christ is also physically present in each human being. Each person shows me Christ in the flesh, in his or her own flesh. That’s what incarnation means.

Like I said before, the teaching that God lives in each person is not a new idea for me or for the Church, but it is one that I am only now beginning to let impact my life. It means that if I want to love Christ, I must love the person right in front of me. I must be convicted that each person is Christ. And I have to act appropriately towards them—with an abundance of love and respect. No person is too small, too poor, too beautiful, too sick, too smart, too talkative, or too anything else for me to love them, since they are Christ.

But I fail at this all the time. So Pope Francis’ words are a challenge for me, a challenge to live out a deeper and more radical love of Christ by loving each person I meet. They are a challenge to seek the face of Christ in every single human being. It’s like a giant “Where’s Waldo?” game. Only with God.

1 comment:

  1. Stasia, this is beautiful! Thank you for sharing! :)