EDMONTON – For Catholics, solidarity is not an option, but an obligation. That's according to Bernadette Gasslein, who led a workshop on Baptism and Eucharist at the regional retreat and meeting of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace April 27.
One effect of Baptism is that it incorporates us into the Body of Christ, said Gasslein. And when we are incorporated to the Body of Christ, we must do as Christ does.
Christ, of course, self-identifies with the poor. "Whatever you do to the least, you do to me," he said.
"So when we are incorporated into him and he self-identifies with the poor, solidarity isn't an option because we are part of him," said Gasslein, a well-known local liturgical educator.
Solidarity is communion in action, she said. "We can't simply say, 'I don't really want to be bothered by the part of my body that's hurting because I don't really care about that.'
"If your knee is hurting, you know it's hurting and you are going to have to bother about it, right? And so we can't close our eyes to those who are hurting."
Added Gasslein: "We need to recognize that because we are incorporated into Christ, because he self-identifies with the poor, we don't have the option to ignore them. Solidarity is not an option. It's part of who we are."
"Pope Benedict says the prayer we repeat at every Mass – 'Give us this day our daily bread' – obliges us to do everything possible to end or at least reduce the scandal of hunger and malnutrition affecting so many millions of people in our world," Gasslein said.
When we share in the Body and the Blood of Christ, the Spirit is working to transform us more deeply into the Body of Christ, she said. "There is a dynamic of the Spirit at work."
"If the Spirit is transforming us more deeply, then we are in the process of becoming more deeply the Body of Christ."
Gasslein noted many people leave the church right after receiving Communion. That happens because we haven't helped the faithful understand that the Spirit transforms the gifts of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.
"When we share the Body and Blood of Christ we are being transformed more deeply into his Body," she explained in an interview. "In Communion, we become what we eat and then we are sent out to be that in the world."