With summer allegedly having arrived I made the most of the good weather last Friday as I walked around the city centre. I got the hair cut last week so I could the feel the burn as I wandered about the streets, walking from one shopping centre to another.
I was more worried about the other effects the sun was having on what’s left of my hair. The last thing I needed was more grey hair. My paranoia wasn’t helped by the relentless advertising I saw in a number of bookshops; everywhere I looked I couldn’t escape the colour grey.
Whatever about this mini midlife crisis I’ll avoid the ‘Just For Men’ and be thankful if I have any hair left in five years’ time. Although the weather was good the town was strangely quiet until I approached Waterloo Place. There must have been a couple of hundred gathered all watching the big screen which was showing the Olympic boxing. Everything came to a standstill as people enjoyed extended lunch breaks.
Walking up the Strand Road I could hear the cheers, the roars of encouragement, the groans of disappointment. Only when I arrived in Waterloo Place did I discover what people were watching.
One of the Irish boxers, Paddy Barnes from Belfast was fighting in the Olympic semi-final. He was guaranteed a bronze medal and if he won this fight he would have a crack at the silver or gold.
I got duly caught up in the excitement as I witnessed the last two minutes of the final round. It was hard to see the big screen with most of the people being taller and with the odd tree planted in front of me to make matters more exciting.
Yet I was caught up in a community event as people, many of them strangers stopped for a few minutes and concentrated on one event. I asked a few people standing beside me how the fight was going; I was informed the Irish boxer was behind. However, Barnes scored well in the final round and the contest was on a knife edge as the final bell sounded.
The fight was declared a draw, fifteen points each but unfortunately the Irish boxer lost out on a count back.
I haven’t a clue what the count back system involved or what it took into consideration. Like any normal person I should have asked but I didn’t want to display my ignorance. Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you’re a fool rather than opening your mouth and confirming their suspicions.
The worry and confusion caused by the incident no doubt added to the tally of grey hairs. Having been lost in my thoughts for a few moments I returned to reality only to discover most people had wandered off and went back to their normal concerns and worries, back to their individual stories and lives which had been broken by this small respite from everyday reality.
For a brief moment in time we had all been caught up in one event, one shared experience as we clapped and cheered one of our own who came from the very island on which we stood.
What Christ is offering to share with us in the Eucharist is the very gift of himself. Jesus offers his very life to his people in a physical and real way, he wants to touch and transform our lives with his very life. Jesus wanted to form a community around the one event, namely, his death and resurrection.
According to Ron Rolhesier, The Eucharist, among other things, is a memorial of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, of his great act of “being broken”, of giving himself over in love. It makes present for us the reality of Christ’s dying as well as God’s response to that, the resurrection, and invites us to participate in that event. Through remembering, we experience the “real presence” of the event of Christ’s dying and rising. Moreover, that reality is given to us so that we might participate in it.
We become a part of Jesus’ sacrifice for us when we, like him, let ourselves be broken down, when we, like him, become selfless. Occasionally when St. Augustine was giving the Eucharist to a communicant, instead of saying, “The body of Christ”, he would say: “Receive what you are.’’
Like the bread and wine, we, the people, are meant to be changed, into Christ’s body.’