I have been thinking a lot about people who do not have the capacity to understand their faith. I think of infants who have not yet developed and the elderly whose brains have started to decay because of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. We baptize the infant and commune the elderly even though their is no recognizable sign that they understand the sacrament that now resides in their bodies unifies them with Christ.
So many times I have visited the elderly who are shells of what they used to be. I know that their brains and bodies are shutting down. Some don’t recognize the wine and bread before them. They relive a conversation with a relative or speak nonsense while we pray together. Sometimes there is a glimmer of recognition when praying the Lord’s Prayer, they repeat it with me and then go back into their own cognitive record skipping, sometimes there is not.
So I’ve been thinking about how my faith is really not held by me. We are too fragile to think that we are capable of being constantly cognizant of being Christ’s Body. Our faith is really held collectively as the body of Christ and therefore God. I wrote in a sermon I gave on the tenth anniversary of 9-11 that I knew that for some people forgiveness is not possible at this point, but that the beauty of community was that when one person in church could not forgive the person sitting next to them was able to. I also wrote that we pray until we ourselves are transformed by the Body of Christ or should I say being conformed to the image of Christ. So when we baptize, commune, or pray with and for people, we as Christ’s Body are holding their faith. We hold their faith because they are me and I am them. The body cannot be separated.