It was by chance I came across this short reflection, which talks about being Christian through the French comic book characters of Asterix and Obelix.
At this point, it may seem too difficult to embody Catholicity in the European territory. We may even feel that we are living in minority, isolated. For this reason, as a final reflection, I refer to one of the best-known European comics, The Adventures of Asterix and Obelix. In my opinion, these characters - Gauls living in a village on the ancient Brittany coast, always surrounded and threatened by the powerful Roman empire - shed some light on what it means to flesh out a Christian identity in twenty-first century Europe.
First, I focus on Obelix, wrong and simple as a standing stone, authentic and tenders as the boars. You may remember that he received his supreme strength when, as a child, he fell into a kettle full of a magic potion that Getafix the Druid had prepared. What a baptism by immersion! Immersed in the potion, Obelix was, from that point forward, a special being, forever marked with an unknown strength. As Christians. "we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just has Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life" (Rom 6.4). Immersed in Christ and in the life of the Trinity, we are new creatures. Do we really live according to our baptism, or are we "conformed to this world" (cf. Rom 12.2)?
Asterix, on the other hand, helps us capture the effect of the Eucharist in our lives. Agile, intelligent, dynamic, creative, kind ... his smallness is transformed with an overwhelming power whenever he partakes of the magic potion. He is not changed once and forever - as Obelix was by his "baptism" - but he assumes progression in life and the need to go back once and again to daily food. Like the manna in the wilderness (see Exod. 16), daily Eucharist gives us the strength to walk some distance at a time, every day, and thus it gradually transforms us.
The characters' Gallic village, as such, also offers some insight that help clarify to identity as a Christian community. I highlight only two. First, their shared communal character allows them to interact with the Romans without succumbing to their threats, while at the same time, they are also able to interact with various peoples without diluting themselves ... these Gauls are not swallowed by the empire. Certainly, European Christians must be "in the world but not of the world" - that is, we should not allow ourselves to be kidnapped by it.
Finally, readers may recall the final scene of every episode of the adventures of Asterix: the whole village is gathered around the table for a banquet that they all celebrate together. We can find here a reference to the Eucharist. The Eucharist is always local, always universal. It is never a mere individual devotion but an act of community; it is not just strength to carry on but also a joyous, festive, and overflowing celebration. For this reason, any Catholic identity that is born and nourished by the Eucharist will be a transformed and transformational identity - an identity that can dive into the thick of the real (secularism, injustice, pluralism; economic, political, and cultural crisis) and, from there, an identity that can push reality to higher, lower, deeper, wider levels. That is, it is an identity that becomes more catholic and more incarnated at the same time.
Daniel Izuzquiza, 'Engaging European Contexts and Issues: Some Reflections' in Michael L. Budde (ed.), Beyond the Borders of Baptism: Catholicity, Allegiances, and Lived Identities (Cascade, 2016), pp.75-76.