Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P.
A Story about All of Us
Picture this. A Pakistani policeman is sent to break up a demonstration. He tells an Indian man to get off the street. The man won't. So the policeman pushes him and shoves him until he falls down. Then the policeman beats the man on the head until he becomes unconscious. The Indian lies on the unpaved street, out cold, looking half dead. The policeman just stands there, with little feeling, gazing down upon him.
All of a sudden a chill runs down the policeman's spine. Is this man really an Indian? It looks like he is wearing a mask. The policeman reaches down and, grabbing a corner of what looks like a mask, he pulls it off. And, behold, there before him is the unconscious face of a Chinese person. But wait. That looks like a mask too. The policeman pulls it off. And now he sees the face of an Italian. The policeman again pulls off a mask. And now he is looking at the face of a Mexican. Another mask is pulled off. Now he sees the face of an Arab. The policeman is dumbfounded.
The Arab stirs. His bruised eyes struggle to open. His parched lips part and he begins to speak. He looks up at the policeman and says, "My brother". The policeman says nothing. "My brother," the Arab says, "don't you realize that when you beat that Indian, you beat each and every member of the human family. We are one." Then the man lying on the ground closes his eyes.
The policeman gets nervous. What has he done? What does this mean? While he ponders, he notices that the Arab's face seems to be a mask too. Should he pull it off? What will he see next?
He has to see. He reaches down and pulls. For some reason the mask is more difficult to remove, but he keeps at it. Slowly and carefully, he peels it off. He looks. He gulps. What is going on? How can this be? There is no mistaking the face he sees now. It is his.
Again the man on the ground stirs. His bruised eyes struggle to open. His parched lips part and he begins to speak. He looks up at the policeman and says, "My self." The policeman says nothing. "My self, don't you realize that when you beat that Indian, you beat your very self? We are one." And then the man lying in the dust closes his eyes.
Cold sweat starts to run down the policeman's back. He begins to tremble. What has he done? What does all this mean? While he ponders, he notices that the face, his face on the beaten man, also looks like a mask. Should he dare to pull it off? What could he possibly see now?
He cannot restrain himself. He must know. So he reaches down and pulls. Now the mask is really difficult to remove, but he keeps at it. Slowly, ever so carefully, he peels it off. He looks. Now he begins to sweat profusely. His face pales. His jaw drops. His eyes are almost popping out of their sockets. He is looking right at the blood-stained face of Christ.
Christ begins to stir. His bruised eyes struggle to open. His parched lips part and he begins to speak. He looks up at the policeman and says, "My son." The policeman stares, speechless, unable to move. "My son, don't you realize that when you beat these people, you beat me. We are one." The policeman falls to his knees.
Now the bruised and battered Christ struggles to stand up. He gazes out into the horizon. His eyes circle the earth.
He sees countries ravaged by wars, people killed by terrorists, and millions living in political oppression.
He sees starving children, homeless families, and battered spouses.
He sees innocent babies aborted, teens hooked into drugs, and
He sees those struggling to survive with little food, unclean water, no sanitation, no schools.
He sees the unemployed, the physically sick, and the emotionally distraught.
He sees those who are insulted, and unloved.
He sees the fearful, the broken-hearted, and those who feel no hope.
He sees all this and tears stream down his face. His arms reach out, stretching all around the globe and embracing every hurting man, woman, and child. His mouth opens wide and a mighty sound comes forth.
It is a mournful shout, piercing through the night. It ascends the mountains, echoes through the valleys, and rumbles down the streets of every city and village. It bounces across the oceans, thrusts out into outer space and resounds throughout the universe.
The voice of Christ cries out:
"These people -- this is my body!
Jesus invites us to come to the altar in church and "eat his body, and drink his blood". To receive communion is to enter into union with the Lord. And with the Lord comes all his people. We are one with our Creator's human family, one with its pain and sorrow, one with its hopes and dreams.
When we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, we receive the Heart of Christ. Those whom Christ loves become those whom we love. It takes courage to receive the heart of Christ. But with the heart of Christ beating within us, we are on the right road to a world of justice, peace, and joy.