I once heard a 70-year-old explain the original Star Trek series to a teenager. She described the series as modern morality plays. Having seen every one of the episodes several times, I would agree. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the series, used the show to address timely social and political issues. He truly believed “that humanity will unite as one while celebrating our differences, put war and hatred and discrimination and poverty behind us, and dedicate our lives to bettering ourselves through discovery among the stars.”
“I believe in humanity. We are an incredible species,” he once said. “We’re still just a child creature, we’re still being nasty to each other. And all children go through those phases. We’re growing up, we’re moving into adolescence now. When we grow up — man, we’re going to be something!”1
I grew up with the original series and loved each of the spin-off programs throughout the years. In each series, there is a character that strives to understand what “being human is all about. From Spock to Data, from Seven of Nine to Tuvok and T’Pol, these characters all struggled as they found themselves living among humans, trying to understand what “being human” meant.
One scene that I absolutely love involved Data. Played by Brent Spiner, Data is an android who desires to be more and more human. He is captured by the Borg (a “bad-guy” race of half robot, half biological beings). The Borg gives Data the gift of being able to sense wind across a piece of skin attached to his arm, giving him a sense of pleasure that he never experienced before, and telling him that only through working with the Borg can Data actually realize what “being human” is all about. This is a temptation to which he does not succumb, and becomes the hero in the end by saving the ship and its crew.2
Recently, I attended a parish adult education session that focused on the Body of Christ. As the presentation began, attendees were asked this question: “What does it mean to be human?” Many of the participants answered, “to be flawed, to be a sinner.” The priest responded, “If Christ was fully human, can we describe Him as flawed or sinful? Remember, humans have been made in the image and likeness of God. Is God flawed?”
Through the action of Adam and Eve, sin entered the world, changing humanity and creation but – and this is HUGE – all of humanity has a gift that renews our life through a reorientation to God. What is that gift? The Eucharist! It “transforms the whole of our lives because it transforms us – the core person we are – into an ever more alive and alert companion of God in the world. Incorporating the whole of our lives, it brings us into an intimate communion with the living God – a communion that does not merely endure only as long as we are in sacred space. God-with-us accompanies us as we go into the world to labor and live our everyday lives.”3
Christ enters our lives and transforms it at its very core. “The Eucharist … embraces the concrete, everyday existence of the believer, makes possible, day by day, the progressive transformation of all those called by grace to reflect the image of the Son of God. There is nothing authentically human – our thoughts and affections, our words and deeds – that does not find in the sacrament of the Eucharist the form it needs to be lived to the full.”4
In short, the Eucharist transforms us into the true image that God created us to be! Too bad that Data did not know about this truly stupendous gift from God!
4Sacramentim Caritatis paragraph 71
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness