Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Eucharist as a new Pentecost

A central point of the theology of the Trinity is that the Holy Spirit is "given by the Father in answer to Jesus' prayer" (CCC, 729). This prayer is only fulfilled when Jesus ascends into heaven; for this reason Christ said to Mary Magdalene: "Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.... I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God" (John 20:17). It was only after His ascension that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred on Pentecost. Thus, there was in some sense a necessity that His followers lose His physical presence in order to obtain the lasting spiritual presence of the Holy Spirit.

There is a direct correlation between this and the Eucharist, as noted by Douglas Bushman (my professor) in his book In His Image. A Program of Renewal Through Education. He states:

The Church teaches that Christ's presence in the Eucharist lasts as long as the appearance of bread and wine continue. This is significant because it points to the fact that as digestion takes place the Eucharistic presence of Christ "melts" away in order to leave another presence of Christ. That presence is His presence in the Holy Spirit, forming the unity of His Mystical Body, the Church. Every Eucharist is for the Church a new Pentecost, a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of Christ's sacrifice.

Bet you never thought of it this way before! (I sure didn't.) If nothing else, this should provide some good food for thought the next time you receive the Eucharist.


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