Yesterday was the third session of the Fall Reflection Series I am offering this fall at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. As I’ve already shared in my posts following the first two sessions, the reflection series is titled Jesus Speaks and it is designed to deepen our appreciation of fundamental Christian teachings drawn from the words of Christ. Each session includes a talk, time for individual reflection and some sharing of the prayer experience.
We began our session with a rich discussion of insights participants gained from their reflection this past week on the Beatitudes. Then we moved on to the focus of today’s session: the Eucharist. In my talk, I shared some implications that flow from the belief of Catholics and some Protestants that the Eucharist is the real presence of Christ, some thoughts about why that changes everything about who and what we are in the world and in relation to each other.
I also invited participants to reflect on the Eucharist as an agent of transformation – of us and of the world. In that context, I quoted something Michael Himes wrote about the Eucharist in his book The Mystery of Faith: An Introduction to Catholicism (a small volume which I frequently recommend to people). Himes writes
Not only does the Eucharist make us who we are, it tells us where we are going….[If bread and wine] can be transformed into the fullness of the presence of Christ, and therefore the fullness of the presence of God in human terms, then why not the whole material universe? And that is, of course, precisely the point….The whole universe is destined to be transformed into the presence of Christ, the fullness of God in the flesh. The whole universe is destined to be transformed into the presence of God in Christ…That is the destiny that the Eucharist reveals to us now: the transformation of the universe into the presence of God, so that the presence of God may be everything in everything. The Eucharist makes us who we are and reveals to us where we are going. That is why we are a Eucharistic people; because we are made into a people by the sealing of the covenant in the Eucharist, a people who know what the destiny of the world is.
Our session continues next week with a focus on the “Great Commandment.”