Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Eucharist: More Ancient Than Scripture

I was catching up on Pontifications today and ran into a post that got me thinking. Al Kimel comments on a evangelical attempt to refute Catholic and Orthodox interpretation of the scriptures as regards to the Eucharist. The evangelical concludes that in order to get the Catholic mass out of John 6, you need to hopelessly stretch and extrapolate from it. Well and good, agrees Kimel, but the Church sees the Eucharist in John 6 because she already possesses the sacrament of the mass, not the other way round.

From this far remove, it's easy to forget the order of events. The apostles celebrated the Eucharist from the very earliest times, from the times that are described in the Bible. The Church did not go back, centuries after the fact, study John 6 and make wild extrapolations. No indeed. By the time John wrote his gospel, the mass had already been actively celebrated on a frequent basis for decades. The earliest form of the Eucharistic liturgy already existed. Far from the Church wildly inventing based on John's gospel, John wrote his gospel under the influence of the daily sacramental life of the Church. He was meditating on the Eucharist, not providing the seeds for its eventual invention.

From our own vantage point, 2000 years after, the Bible itself seems like a piece of ancient history, something the first Christians took up and read. It's easy to forget that in fact the Bible was written after the Church was already thriving, indeed because it was thriving: because it was now big enough that not every Christian had met the apostles, and as it became evident that 'the day and the hour' was far enough off that the Church would have to live on past the death of the last of the apostles.

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