Sacramentum Caritatis 11: Foreshadowing to Full Fruition

Today, a paragraph titled, Figura transit in veritatem. What God established for the Israelites comes to full fruition in the Eucharist. The sacrifice of the Exodus 12 lamb is a hint of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

11. Jesus thus brings his own radical novum to the ancient Hebrew sacrificial meal. For us Christians, that meal no longer need be repeated. As the Church Fathers rightly say, figura transit in veritatem: the foreshadowing has given way to the truth itself. The ancient rite has been brought to fulfilment and definitively surpassed by the loving gift of the incarnate Son of God. The food of truth, Christ sacrificed for our sake, dat figuris terminum. (Roman Breviary, Hymn for the Office of Readings of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi) By his command to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:25), he asks us to respond to his gift and to make it sacramentally present.

I notice the recognition of the action of the Holy Spirit. For a theologian so locked into the Trinity, Pope Benedict would certainly emphasize the teaching of it:

In these words the Lord expresses, as it were, his expectation that the Church, born of his sacrifice, will receive this gift, developing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit the liturgical form of the sacrament.

The celebration of the Eucharist was a Spirit-guided development that moved the Last Supper into a regular celebration of the early Christians.

The remembrance of his perfect gift consists not in the mere repetition of the Last Supper, but in the Eucharist itself, that is, in the radical newness of Christian worship. In this way, Jesus left us the task of entering into his “hour.” “The Eucharist draws us into Jesus’ act of self-oblation. More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos, we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving.” (Deus Caritas Est 13) Jesus “draws us into himself.” (Benedict XVI, Homily at Marienfeld Esplanade (21 August 2005))

What is the human response to the Lord’s self-giving, and the experience of being drawn not only into his Presence, but into his very self? We practice the imitation of Christ, and trust God’s design for the ultimate transfiguration of creation as envisioned by Saint Paul:

The substantial conversion of bread and wine into his body and blood introduces within creation the principle of a radical change, a sort of “nuclear fission,” to use an image familiar to us today, which penetrates to the heart of all being, a change meant to set off a process which transforms reality, a process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all in all (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:28).

This document is copyright © 2007 Dicastero per la Comunicazione – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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