The Flesh of Christ

The Holy Father so beautifully and with such a tone of urgent mission spoke of anyone who suffers as the suffering of the “flesh of Christ,” last night at St. Francis hospital in Rio. He said:

in every suffering brother and sister that we embrace, we embrace the suffering Body of Christ. Today, in this place where people struggle with drug addiction, I wish to embrace each and every one of you, who are the flesh of Christ, and to ask God to renew your journey, and also mine, with purpose and steadfast hope.

I hadn’t really paid any attention to Saint Camillus de Lellis, until a painting of him holding a patient, who was Christ, grabbed my attention as I was coming down from the roof of the North American Pontifical College in Rome, just a little over a year ago. It’s one of those images that you’re better for seeing, your life becomes more difficult, in ways, for seeing. The culture of indifference Pope Francis blasted while on the island of Lampedusa earlier this month can be so tempting. But not with that image in our midst. Not with the testimony of lives saved by St. Francis hospital in Rio.

We can become addicted to indifference, in denial by texting ten dollars to a charity now and again, when there is a disaster-relief concert on the air. The pope has come to the Americas to wake us up. This is not the life of a Christian. This is not the way of Christ.

(More about Wednesday in Rio here.)


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