June 6, 2010

Incarnation and Eucharist

Today was one of those Sundays when I only realized what I wanted to preach at the last minute. Without enough time to put it together in my head, and with the distraction--for me and the people--of our new pet pigeons flying about the church, it was kind of a mess.

But here's the thing, why the Mass is such a big deal. It's not enough for God just to save us, or even just to save us through the Passion and death of his Son. God wants us to be involved, to participate in, perpetuate, and multiply salvation in the world. This is why Jesus institutes the memorial of his own sacrifice in the bread and wine of the Last Supper, to extend his saving work forward in time, in such a way that is accessible for us. He doesn't just save us, but offers us a way to join ourselves to the salvation, to unite ourselves to the sacrifice of Christ and thus be transformed into the heirs of his mission as his risen Body.

This is the error of those outside the apostolic Churches who say that they don't need the Eucharist; Jesus died on the Cross once for all, the sacrifice is over, and all you have to do is assent to the salvation that was won for you. Yes, Jesus died on the Cross once for all. Yes, the sacrifice is accomplished and completed. Yes, salvation has already been won. But everything about the mystery of Christ, suggests that God wants to go beyond simply saving us from a distance; he wants to embed his salvation in our humanity. Those who deny the Eucharist and disregard the perpetuating nature of the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord within it fail to take the Incarnation seriously. That's the point. The one sacrifice is extended through time in the Mass to give us a way into it, and it a way into us.

The Word became flesh so that we, in our flesh, might too become bearers of the Word.


4narnia said...

excellent point, Fr. C! the Eucharist is SO central to our Christian life. receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist IS what gives us strength and unites us. i like that sentence you wrote in this post, which really says it all: "The one sacrifice is extended through time in the Mass to give us a way into it, and it a way into us. that's why frequent participation in the Mass and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is key - the more we do this, the more HE will become embedded IN us. PAX! ~tara t~

caedmon said...

Thank you for such a lucid statement on the esteem given by Catholics to Eucharist. May it be a reminder to Catholics and give understanding to others.

Greg said...

Nicely argued.

Perhaps the power of the Eucharist has been overlooked because we Catholics have not owned the rich mystical legacy of the apostolic tradition.

Maybe too many have become rote in their approach and thus have lost the ability to convey the richness of the Mass.

Maybe too many Catholics have fallen victim to a society in which we ridicule and reject the mystical, the sacred, in our lives.

Last week a Protestant pastor, who I greatly admire, spoke of the Mass, indirectly, saying it lacked the simplicity of the Last Supper and had become over ritualized.

He was someone who could understand receiving Jesus, but who was not aware of what the Mass was... I gave him Scott Hahn's wonderful book, the Lamb's Supper.

luke said...

A great post! I live a couple stripes of Christian tradition - I attend church with my wife at a Protestant church as well as Mass. I'm going to send this post to our Protestant pastor.