Daily Step – Christ in 10,000 places


“Now Christ’s body is yourselves, each of you with a part to pay in the whole.” (1 Cor 12:27)

At the start of our day yesterday, day two in the II JESEDU-Jogya2024 Seminar, Fr. Chris Hanvey, S.J. reminded us that “the absent other is always present.” These words were up on the screen as he spoke them placed next to the image of a solitary empty chair, a reminder that in every conversation in every moment in every part of the world whether he is recognized or not… Christ dwells. Christ dwells in us and through us and is working with us each of these days. I had not noticed the empty chair that was in our small group spiritual discussion room the day before, but when we returned to engage in spiritual conversation over this topic of interreligious dialogue, there it was.

Christ with us.

I have always been drawn to fact that Mary appears over and over again wearing the dress and speaking the language of the culture she is encountering. In contrast, it has always been a bit difficult for me to imagine Jesus in this way. Instead, in that empty chair, I imagine one of two images of Jesus most prevalent in my experiences – the light skinned Jesus that has donned the walls of most Catholic places I have entered throughout my life and the historical dark skinned Jesus that reminds us of the actual human being (fully divine and fully human according to my Christian faith) who walked among us over 2000 years ago.

I never thought to imagine that if Mary could not be limited to the bounds of her historical body when she comes in blessing to those who need her, the risen Christ could and does do the same.

During Fr. Hanvey’s talk he put up an image of a sculpture where the risen Christ is depicted as a Javenese king. As we gazed upon this image, he reminded us that Jesus carries his history but the risen Christ moves beyond our human limitations.

As we continued our conversations throughout the day, I carried this understanding of the risen Christ with me and it framed my understanding of human fraternity and dialogue in a new way. As Dr. Fatima Hussain spoke of her experiences as a Muslim woman in her keynote and then fellow seminar participants shared their unique perspectives and contexts as well in small and large groups, I recognized how the risen Christ does, in fact, show up everywhere.

God, indeed, is in all.

It is clear through the gospel stories that Jesus showed us a path to this type of dialogue we desire, a kind of narrative hospitality that allows us to each show up as we were uniquely created to be and navigate our similarities and differences with grace and openness. In the closing mass yesterday evening, we were reminded of the many stories, including that of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus demonstrated meeting people where they were, as they were and loving them well.

Besides my expanded understanding of the risen Christ in our midst, I also felt the presence of others taking up the empty space in the room. I imagined Ignatius, Francis Xavier, Mateo Ricci, and more laying hands upon our shoulders reminding us that they once too had to put aside fear and trust in the companionship of the risen Christ. I imagined them inviting us to believe in the audacious spirit planted in the hearts of the first Jesuits over 500 years ago and dwelling in our own hearts today.

As I reflect over day two, I’m left reflecting on a few questions that came up during my prayer time with 1 Corinthians 12-27:

  • What is my part in the body? What is yours?
  • How can we make room for each other’s audacity?
  • How can we harness the audacity and faithfulness of the early Jesuits, put aside fear, and take a chance on service of our friendship with God?
  • Where is God inviting us to dialogue? to hospitality? to be Christ’s hands and feet in this messy world we find ourselves in?

I am so grateful for these conversations as we prepare to enter the worship spaces of others this coming day.

I am currently in Yogyakarta, Indonesia as one of twelve North American delegates, 100 global delegates overall, meeting to discuss Catholic/Jesuit identity and in-depth faith formation in Jesuit schools at II Seminar JESEDU-Jogja2024. Since I keep forgetting about the 12 hour time change and texting all those I love at 2 in the morning, I decided I would write some blog posts about the most important moments for me and perhaps the moments that might stir something in you as well. Thanks for reading! More to come!

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