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Chapter 33: Eucharistic Life as Fulfillment in the Lord Jesus

Question E: How is the Eucharist a pledge of glory?

1. Gift giving is successful in building a relationship of love only if the recipent accepts and treasures the gift. If we offer our whole lives to God, will he accept? Why should this gift mean anything to him?

2. The answer is found in Jesus. His sacrifice is accepted: He is risen. Jesus’ resurrection in glory, his establishment in power at the Father’s right hand (see Rom 1.4)—this divine act is acceptance. In the Eucharist our gifts are united with Jesus’ gift.

3. The Eucharist, however, unites us with Jesus as he truly is, not as he once was on earth or dead in the tomb. From the perspective of the end of history, all human life, the totality of human history, is one long preparation of the gifts which are to be offered to the Father in, through, and with Jesus for the final transformation in which the new city of God will come down from heaven (see Rv 21.1–2). Jesus’ Spirit frees all human persons “. . . so that by putting aside love of self and bringing all earthly resources into the service of human life they can devote themselves to that future when humanity itself will become an offering accepted by God. The Lord left behind a pledge of this hope and strength for life’s journey in that sacrament of faith where natural elements refined by man are changed into his glorified Body and Blood, providing a meal of brotherly solidarity and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet” (GS 38). The virtuous circle of eucharistic devotion means growing intimacy with God, and this points toward perfect intimacy (see SC 48). The Eucharist is therefore the pledge of glory (see Eph 1.14).

4. One can approach this truth in another way. The shedding of Jesus’ blood has opened the way into the holy of holies (see Heb 10.19–21). In the Eucharist we share in this blood. Therefore, we pass through the veil, which is his flesh, into the temple of God. Again, Jesus not only died for us but also was raised for us (see 2 Cor 5.15).15 In the Eucharist, we receive the resurrection life of Jesus (see Jn 6.54). In the Eucharist we therefore have the pledge (not simply a promise but a beginning) of heavenly glory (see S.t., 3, q. 73, a. 4; q. 79, a. 2).

5. The mystery hidden for the ages from everyone is the mystery of Jesus himself, the mystery of God present among us, sharing in our human life and enabling us to share in his divine life. This mystery has been revealed to us, and we know—that is, have experience of—glory which is priceless, our communion in divine life. The Eucharist precisely is Jesus in us, our hope of glory (see Col 1.27). In view of this hope, we strive toward fulfillment in our Lord Jesus and are impelled to work in the apostolate “with all the energy which he mightily inspires within” us (Col 1.29).

15. A treatment of the unbreakable unity of the death and resurrection of Jesus as a redemptive principle: Lucien Cerfaux, Christ in the Theology of St. Paul (New York: Herder and Herder, 1959), 107–60. In itself, dying would be useless; God redeems by re-creating, as in the resurrection of Jesus.