What does Holy Communion mean — poetry from Argentina

Gerardo Oberman of Argentina writes to shake the sanctimonious sanctity off the Christian Communion meal — to turn it from an orientation to death shaped by those who do not have at their heart the hungry, the naked, the prisoners, the oppressed, towards one for life.

This is my body … this is my blood…”.commune4
Pronounced so many times,
heard again and again,
but so rarely understood.

Like robots we move
toward the bread seeking to be body,
the wine seeking to be life,
and return without becoming that body,
unmotivated to share the life.

There is no “mysterious” in the mystery,
no “secret religious truth,”
though more than a few theologians
are responsible for creating the distance
between the memorial words of Jesus
and their unsettling simplicity,
their defiance and depth.

We walk, men and women
seeking God-knows-what —
magical transformation
in our individual lives;
we parade to the bread and wine in solitude,
surrounded by a sepulchral silence,
as if to encounter death…

Perverse would be the sacrament
if this were its meaning.

Instead the Teacher raises the bread
and invites us to see in it his body —
all that his person is:
his history, his journey,
his actions and his words,
his presence, his teachings,
his hugs, his promises.

To eat this body implies commitment
to that life, to that Jesus,
with his challenge to build
a world of caring and justice,
a world harmonious and inclusive.

The Nazarene takes the cup of wine
and asks his disciples
to see there his blood —
the depth of his dedication,
the consistency of his spirituality,
his immersion in the possibility
of fullness of life for all,
even to the very same death
pronounced by those who snatch away
all that generous spilled love.

To encounter that cup,
we take part in the fullness of life
that still needs to be discovered,
celebrated, and shared.

So let us go in search
of that bread and that cup,
let us go two by two,
or in the company of many,
as if going to a party,

honoring the One who lives forever,
celebrating the extravagance
of his liberating grace,
eating and drinking with enthusiasm,
nourished by the body and fed by the spirit
in order to return to everyday life
and build community
and continue the life of true sharing.

Only with this partaking
will bread and the wine become sacrament.
Translation — Katie Feigenbaum 

Éste es mi cuerpo … ésta es mi sangre…”.
Tantas veces pronunciado, tantas veces oído,
en tantas circunstancias repetido,
tan pocas veces comprendido.
Como autómatas nos movemos
hacia donde el pan busca ser cuerpo
y donde el vino busca ser vida,
pero regresamos sin hacernos cuerpo
y sin animarnos a compartir la vida.
No hay misterio en el misterio,
por más que algunas teologías
se hayan encargado de alejar
estas memorables palabras de Jesús
de su perturbadora simpleza
y de su desafiante profundidad.
Caminamos hombres y mujeres
buscando quién sabe qué mágica transformación
en nuestras vidas individuales;
marchamos en soledad,
rodeados de un silencio de sepulcro,
a encontrarnos con un muerto…
Perverso sería el sacramento
si tal fuese su significado.
El maestro levanta el pan
e invita a ver en él su cuerpo,
todo lo que su persona es:
su historia, su camino recorrido,
sus acciones y sus palabras,
su presencia, sus enseñanzas,
sus abrazos, sus promesas.
Tomar su cuerpo implica un compromiso
con esa vida, con ese Jesús,
con sus propuestas de construir
un mundo solidario y justo,
armonioso e inclusivo.
El nazareno toma la copa de vino
e interpela a sus discípulos y discípulas
a ver allí su sangre,
es decir, la profundidad de su entrega,
la coherencia de su espiritualidad,
la identificación con un proyecto
de plenitud de vida para todos y todas,
hasta la mismísima muerte
con que algunos quieren arrebatarle
tanto amor generoso derramado.
Ir al encuentro de esa copa,
nos involucra con la vida plena
que aún necesita ser descubierta
y celebrada y compartida.
Vayamos en busca de ese pan y de esa copa,
y vayamos de a dos, de muchos y muchas,
como quien va hacia una fiesta,
honremos a quien vive para siempre,
festejemos la amplitud de su gracia liberadora,
comamos y bebamos con ganas,
que se nutra el cuerpo y se alimente el espíritu
para regresar a lo cotidiano
a seguir construyendo comunidad
y a continuar compartiendo vida.
Sólo así el pan y el vino
serán sacramento.

Madison from the porch at Spirit Lodge

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