Summary: What we do when we celebrate Eucharist is to have a foretaste of what we will experience when we reunite in the kingdom of God.

March 30, 2009

Sacramentum Caritatis

Recently this series focused for a moment on the distinction between hating sin and judging evil actions on the one hand, and loving sinners and welcoming them into the Church on the other. These two dramas from the Old and New Testament, these two rescues, show the justice of God and the mercy of God, and especially the actions of Jesus pointing toward the eschatological age in which none of us will sin any more, and all of us will be united in the kingdom of God.

The Jewish people expected a golden age to be ushered in by the coming of Messiah. When Christ came, the Holy Father teaches, he came to gather together the scattered people of God and clearly manifested his intention to gather together the community of the covenant. He wanted to bring to fulfillment the promises made by God to Abraham and his descendants. When he called the Twelve Apostles–representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel, he called them to the Last Supper. There, he gave them a command to celebrate his memorial, sacrificial meal. In that sign, Jesus showed that he wished to transfer to the entire community he had founded a special task. We are to be, within history, the sign and instrument of the eschatological gathering that had its origin in him. This means that every time we gather to celebrate Mass, we are accomplishing in sacramental sign the gathering of the People of God in the kingdom of God. This eucharistic banquet is a foretaste–a real foretaste–of the marriage feast of the Lamb in the communion of saints in heaven. What we see here in sign the saints are already celebrating in reality in the presence and union of God. (Par 31)

The Holy Father reminds us that, therefore, this eucharistic celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ is a pledge of future glory that we will participate in–risen body and soul united once again at the heavenly feast. This gives us also the hope of meeting once again, face to face, those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. So the Pope and Synod Fathers remind us of the importance of praying for the dead, especially offering Mass for them, so that once they are purified they can experience the beatific vision of God. And, I should add, we must teach our children and grandchildren of the importance of this, so that they will pray for us once we have died.

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