Daily Meditations

Feast Day of Saint Symeon the New Theologian. Union of Christ’s Body

October 12th, 2017

Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022), a saint and mystic revered to this day by Eastern Christians, wrote some words that point beautifully to this “force field” that we call the Body of Christ. It is a living organism created by those who live in love, much more than any mere religious organization.

Symeon describes this cosmic embodiment created by God’s grace and our response, naming the divine union that all the Bible is forever inviting and edging us toward. He is sharing his own experience of his divine embodiment. Here, in Symeon’s hymn, scripture has become spirituality. This is probably my favorite piece of religious verse. Its twenty-seven mystical lines honestly say it all.

We awaken in Christ’s body,
As Christ awakens our bodies
There I look down and my poor hand is Christ,
He enters my foot and is infinitely me.
I move my hand and wonderfully
My hand becomes Christ,
Becomes all of Him.
I move my foot and at once
He appears in a flash of lightning.
Do my words seem blasphemous to you?
—Then open your heart to him.
And let yourself receive the one
Who is opening to you so deeply.
For if we genuinely love Him,
We wake up inside Christ’s body
Where all our body all over,
Every most hidden part of it,
Is realized in joy as Him,
And He makes us utterly real.
And everything that is hurt, everything
That seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
Maimed, ugly, irreparably damaged
Is in Him transformed.
And in Him, recognized as whole, as lovely,
And radiant in His light,
We awaken as the beloved
In every last part of our body. [1]

~Adapted from Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2008), 219-220.

[1] Saint Symeon the New Theologian, Hymn 15, “We awaken in Christ’s body” from The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, ed. Stephen Mitchell (New York: HarperPerennial, 1993), 38f.