Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mystery of Transubstantiation

"Jesus gives Himself to us," the Mystery of Transubstantiation
By Fr. Ray Ryland, Coming Home Network

One of the post-communion prayers in the Eucharistic liturgy makes this petition: “Lord, by our sharing in the mystery of this Eucharist, let your saving love grow within us. Grant this through Christ our Lord.”

We pray and say things like this so often in our liturgy we tend to take them for granted. Take another and closer look at what Jesus Christ does in this great mystery of the Eucharist.

Start With the Incarnation

Ponder these astounding words from the prologue to the Fourth Gospel: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God...And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth...” (John 1:1, 14a)

Sacred scripture is telling us that Almighty God has become part of the material world. And all for the purpose of working out our salvation through the human nature (body as well a soul) of his divine Son.

Now that Christ has been raised in glory, through his transfigured human nature God mediates to us the salvation Christ has won for us. God acts on us in an intimate, person-to-person way.

Our contact with God is a spiritual reality made possible by god’s grace and by our response to that grace in faith. And so for all persons who have faith in Christ, he makes himself spiritually available to them.

Bur in his infinite love for us, Jesus Christ has chosen to do far more than be simply spiritually available.

In the Eucharist, Jesus Christ Gives Us Direct Contact With His Human Nature

Think of your senses: Hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, tasting. You can hear or see or smell something, but our sense of hearing or seeing or smelling is detached from its object. You are not in direct physical contact with what you hear or see or smell.

Touching is different. We come into direct contact with something by putting our fingers or our hand on that object. Tasting is a form of touching, but with a very great difference. Tasting – eating – actually brings about a union between ourselves and the object of our tasting (eating). What we eat literally becomes part of us.

Now this is deeply significant: the central act of the Catholic religion is an act of feeding on particular food. Jesus wants us to be united with him through faith, of course. But through his Church he has provided for much more intimate contact with himself. He has given us food – the Eucharist – through which he gives us his very self.

At the Last Supper he said of the elements, “this is my body,” “this is my blood.” (Matt. 26:26-28). Jesus Christ gives us himself under forms of bread and wine.

In all the other sacraments, Jesus uses physical means through which he gives us his grace: the water of baptism, the oil of the anointing, and so. But in the Eucharist, the physical means Jesus uses themselves become Jesus Christ himself.

Only God himself could fully explain the miracle of the Eucharist, but the Holy Spirit enables his Church to describe the miracle, in her doctrine of transubstantiation.

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