How does Christ’s church, his people, turn the anger and violence of this world into something good? A church statue in San Diego provides a visible guidepost. Here’s the story, not a new one but one worth retelling.
In about 1980 vandalism to a statue of Jesus at Christ the King Church left the plaster Messiah without hands. Sam Lucero photographed the statue in 1986 and retold the story in 2013. Lucero writes:
Rather than repair the statue, Jesuit Fr. Robert Fambrini, pastor at the time, placed a sign at the base to reflect the mission of the people of God. “I have no hands but yours.” The sign was later replaced by a permanent plaque. Fr. Fambrini told me that he received offers to pay for the statue’s repair but he turned them down.
These words recall the words of Teresa of Avila:
Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
And her words, of course, flow from Scripture, where Paul wrote:
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it (1 Cor. 12:27, NRSV).
We followers of Christ are indeed the body of Christ in today’s world. God amazingly works through us to accomplish divine purposes. As we grasp the importance of being Christ’s body, Christ’s hands in our world it is good to remember what Paul said before the verse just quoted.
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. . . . If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it (1 Cor. 12:14, 26, NRSV).
None of us are God’s hands alone; we are working together as a body.