There is a beautiful song about the Eucharis that invites us to: “Look beyond the bread you eat -see you Saviour and your God. Look beyond the Cup you drink – see His blood poured out as love.”
We are invited constantly to look beyond in our Christian living and see the deeper reality present. St Francis used to speak of the “eyes of the Spirit”.
Before the crib – look beyond the helpless infant – see your God.
Before the Cross – look beyond the horror – see your salvation.
Before the altar – look beyond the obvious – see your Risen Lord.
This is how God works – He calls forth faith, a sight that is deeper than the merely visible, that does not depend only on outward appearances.
We need the same faith vision, the same eyes of the Spirit, the same light of God when it comes to the Church. We need to look beyond the institution heavy with history, the Church whose failures are trumpeted by the world, the sins of whose members are only too obvious at times.
There is an old Latin saying about the Church - Ecclesia semper reformanda - the Church is always being reformed, always in need of reform. And the powerful image of Jesus cleansing the Temple has been used again and again throughout the centuries by popes and prophets, saints and reformers working for that renewal.
But even as we pray and work for that deeper renewal we must not hesitate to view the Church in the light of faith. In the Creed each Sunday we profess our faith in the Church; we profess that it is not merely a human institution but the work of God.
The community of faith, made up of us ordinary human beings, is being built into the temple of the Holy Spirit. Each gathering of the Lord’s disciples especially for the Eucharist, weak and broken as we are, is truly that sacred space from which living water flows to heal and refresh.