The Destiny of the Whole Universe

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Corpus Christi, the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. In his book, The Mystery of Faith, Michael Himes talks about an antiphon that originated in the Middle Ages that describes the Eucharist as a pignus futurae gloriae, that is a down payment or first installement of future glory. Thus he suggests that the eucharistic bread and wine are “the tip of the iceberg, the point at which we see what the whole universe is destined to become.”

I have alway loved his way of talking about Eucharist. He writes

The eucharistic celebration centers on bread that we believe becomes the body of Christ and on wine that we believe becomes the blood of Christ. Consider that bread for a moment. There is no intrinsic difference between the bread which becomes the Eucharist and the bread that we popped into the toaster at breakfast or that we will use for sandwiches for lunch. There is no intrinsic difference between the wine that will become the Eucharist and the wine that we drink with friends at dinner. If this bread can become the body of Christ, why not all that other bread? If this wine can become the blood of Christ, why not all wine? If bread grown from soil and nurtured by sunlight and watered by rain, if grapes tended by vine-dressers and grown with the help of sun and soil and rain, can become the presence of Christ then why not the sun, the soil and the rain? Why not the vine, why not the wheat? In fact, if this tiny fragment of the material world 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.

As we celebrate this feast of Corpus Christi, it is good to reflect on how the Eucharist points to the holiness of everything.