An earthy man with jumbo, Dumbo ears. Even as he raises the unleavened bread for it to become God incarnate, the body of Christ, it is not hard to imagine him at table – enjoying his food; also at stool afterwards – with similar satisfaction.
Pope Francis is performing a miracle – bread into body. Don’t be surprised: he does it all the time. Another one will be along in minute – wine into blood; and here are two he prepared earlier – the dead popes (John Paul II and John XXIII) which he transformed into saints before going on to celebrate mass.
Yes, it is easy to reveal the
pope and his retinue for what they partly are: men with feet of
clay and an appetite for repairing the
sullied reputation of the
‘holy’ Church, host to all their privileges.
And then there is that gesture, performed by popes and priests alike, maintained throughout the
consecration except when the
celebrant is required to fiddle with bits of
bodily bread and the
They all do it – this gesture; and no one else is allowed to. Elbows tucked in; hands raised to shoulder height, held sideways on; palms open – facing each other.
space between the
celebrant’s hands – about the
his forearm, there is room for all the
men and women in the world
. With all of
us included in this space, there is God – in the
instant. There is God, the
moment all humanity is here.
Then again, not. Nothing but a rhetorical posture which grossly distorts the
universal relation between human beings – you and me and anyone who reads this and everyone who never does, never did, never will. But by trying and even by failing to formulate this relation in the
prescribed gesture of
a designated individual, at least the
relation itself is acknowledged.
It’s not heaven – we must know that; but surely better than the
interpersonal purgatory in which nothing exceeds networking.
Two months before the World
Cup opens in Brazil (and three months earlier and four months before that), an excess of
violence. In Rio, what else would they do but riot? N.B. In the
relation outlined above, ‘they’ is really some of
us. Denied entry to the
forthcoming festival of
futebol; pacified – occupied – by military police presence. Meanwhile the
Catholic mass – the
holdall – is simply not big enough to hold them all, all the
course we always knew as much: that is why football in the
first place, and why it matters more than mortal life.
One night in Rio, a few blocks from the
Maracana, a man hurls a long wooden pole at police lines, his body a perfect arc of
strength, movement, completion. But Robocop is a long way off; the
missile will fall far short. Between its trajectory and the
police, a middle aged woman walks unperturbed, carrying her shopping.
woman is solid, earthy: she might be the
pope’s sister…….or his wife.