Theft of Laurence O’Toole’s heart – a reflection
The Theft Of A Heart.
Last Sunday’s Liturgy presented us in scripture with the body of Isaac readied for sacrifice and the body of Jesus glorified in Transfiguration. Saturday evening I was thinking these thoughts in relation to Body Theology and then I heard that the heart of St. Laurence O’Toole had been stolen. I immediately felt this theft of a man’s heart in my gut. Who would steal a human heart? no matter how ancient, whether that heart is of a man or woman, a saint or not? In my very gut I felt this violation of a human being.
Body Theology and my innards? My understanding of that theology is that first I am body, not just that I have a body. As I understand it the Incarnation is God’s vindication of the created world and of human beings. This world and we, bodied men and women, and all that is created are indispensible to our eternal salvation. It is in our bodies that we can know moral knowledge. If we cannot feel within our very bodies justice and injustice, hope and hopelessness, love and hatred, integration and destruction, these terms remain unreal and abstract.
The history by which the rejection of ” the world ” and the body came to have such influence on our spirituality today is not for here, it is too long and complex, but Church suspicion of the body, sexuality and intimacy is the under the control of Church as ” it ” and needs to enter into dialogue with the Church as
” we ” the People of God.
When I stand as solemniser at marriage, more and more I realise that this public expression of love of bride and groom is the greatest compliment one human being can pay to another. At marriage we are invited to enter into the love of these two people who by an exchange of consent hand over, one to the other, all that is precious and intimate in themselves and expect nothing less in return.This is sacrament bodied in all its beauty and mystery.
And our brothers and sisters who seek a blessing for their committment in love and fidelity to their same gender partner ? How can we control blessing? Men and women who are members of our faith-communities and who ask that God be part of their lives together. A blessing that their lives together be open to the presence of God in their lives, the in their relationship they open their hearts to the needy, the unloved and the needy, that the Church support them in their fidelity to each other and that they add to the life of the Church. How can we control blessing? The Eucharist was never instituted and then to be used as a penalty. The unity of the Eucharist is most most clearly seen in its very brokenness.
The recent public refusal of Holy Communion to Barbara Johnson in the United States by the priest-celebrant of her mother’s funeral Liturgy and his walking off the sanctuary as she began her words of thanks to the congregation was his personal objection to Barbara’s choice to live openly as an openly lesbian woman. Who are we to claim control over sacraments? The great task for us to face as Church is the use of power, if we ever to be accountable then that accountability is about the use of power.
A heart is stolen, a body readied for sacrifice and the body of Jesus glorified in Tranfiguration, by the hand of God Isaac was unbound, hopefully the heart of Laurence will be returned and may the glory of the body of Christ be seen in all members of Christ’s Body, the Church. in us, all of us, the People of God. That I feel in my body, in my gut.