by Eilín Teeling, AMMM Ireland 02.09.2022
St Teresa of Avila in Spain (1515-82) famously wrote that:
“Christ has no body on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassionately on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
I was asked some years ago to serve as a Minister of the Eucharist at Mass. I hesitated – I thought of the centurion who said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof” (Mt 8:8), whose words we say at every Mass before we receive Eucharist. Then I thought that if everyone felt like that, we would have no community, so I agreed.
St. Teresa’s writings reminds us to reflect on the real presence of Christ in each of us because each of us is created in God’s image and likeness. It brings home the meaning of “love thy neighbour” and includes everybody not just those we like. When we see our unpleasant neighbour who argues about garden boundaries, or the drunk person shouting in the street, we are called to remember that they too are “the body of Christ on earth.”
I pray for grace and reverence each time I serve as a Minister of the Eucharist. It is a precious moment as I raise the sacred host to each person, one by one. I see their eyes first, and I then see their hands as they receive. I see smiling eyes, troubled eyes, sad eyes. I see large, grimy hands, rough from years of manual work. I see small, manicured hands, smooth and cared for. What hardship or love is in each person’s life? What work do the hands do each day? We use our hands for hugs, kind deeds, preparing meals with love, or for cruelty. What have the eyes witnessed, kindness or rejection? Sometimes, I feel moved to give some a hug.
My service as Minister of the Eucharist has brought me blessings: by noticing eyes and hands, I also witness Christ in each person.