Is it bizarre to find a connection between the Harry Potter books and the Eucharist? It is something that has been going around in my head for a while. In the books it gradually becomes clear that the evil character Voldemort cannot easily be killed. He has placed a horcrux – a piece of his own soul – in various objects and even in people and until all of these are destroyed Voldemort cannot be destroyed.
I don’t want to get too deep into exploring what a horcrux is here. Safe to say that Voldemort is not a nice individual and anything he is involved in is equally negative. But the thing that sparked my imagination was the idea that Jesus too, in the Eucharist, gives himself away. For Jesus, it is an act of absolute love and generosity.
At the Last Supper, knowing what was about to happen to him, Jesus gathers his friends and taking bread in his hands says, “This is my body” and with the cup of wine, “This is my blood”. He wasn’t just saying this is like my body and my blood. He was much more definite and direct than that. What he gave them to eat and drink was, he was telling them, his very own self.
To my mind, he seems to be taking the initiative before the powers that be can kill him. He puts himself utterly into the hands of those who have loved and followed him. He entrusts himself entirely to them and in doing so, even death on a cross cannot destroy him. So, it seems to me that what happens in that first Eucharist and what happens in the Resurrection are intimately and powerfully connected. The friends of Jesus, even the ones who run away from the cross, have become tabernacles of his presence.
But it goes further than that. Every time we gather to receive the Eucharist, we are being entrusted with the very being of Jesus in just the same way. We are living tabernacles.
I’ve been reading Richard Rohr’s book The Universal Christ and there was something there that really struck me and got me thinking about all of this again. Rohr speaks of noticing that sometimes when people receive Holy Communion they bow towards the tabernacle as if they have not understood that the real presence is now carried within their own bodies.
The readings these past few days have been about Moses going up the mountain to speak with God. When he comes down his face is radiant. I have sometimes found myself sitting after Holy Communion wondering what it would be like if we could see the wonder of that real presence of Christ radiant in each person.
What impact would it have on our appreciation of the Eucharist, on the reverence with which we receive the Eucharist? The really challenging question is how differently would we live if we took seriously the responsibility to carry that real presence out with us into our daily lives?
If I am right and there is that vital connection between Eucharist and Resurrection then that should give us confidence. If Jesus could not be destroyed even by death because he had placed himself in the hands of his friends so too the Church which is Christ’s body cannot be destroyed if we continue to be bearers of Christ’s presence. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, Christ continues to be present through the lives of you and me.
Have you ever walked into a room full of people and met someone who shares your name? It can give us a sense of connection, a feeling of having something in common – a place to begin a relationship from. Well when we come together as people of faith, we all share the same name. We are all Christopher – the Christ bearer. How’s that for a reason to feel connected and to build a relationship!