Sacraments, Louis-Marie Chauvet argues (The Sacraments – The Word of God at the Mercy of the Body), are matters of symbolic exchange. The sacrament is a gift and every gift demands a return gift.
Not quite, argues Belcher (Efficacious Engagement: Sacramental Participation in the Trinitarian Mystery 35): “No doubt influenced by traditional medieval Western understandings of consecration, Chauvet identifies the institution narrative as the moment when the gifts of God, the body and blood of Christ are received. But the assembly does not receive the body and blood of Christ until the ritual meal, which is at once the embodied symbol of the reception of the gift and the performative enactment of their communal love. The church offers the eucharistic gift back to God . . . even before they receive it; or, rather, the gift offers itself in an ‘act of obligation, that is, of dispossession’ that gives the assembly the ability to ‘become what they receive.’”
In short, “If the eucharistic gift is grace, that is, entry into the trinitarian life, then the capacity to become absolute self-giving in the world is the gift itself, not an obligatory return-gift.” Self-gift is “the only form grace can take, because God has no other gift to give than God’s own life.”
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Monday, September 10, 2012 at 5:12 pm
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