As John H. McKenna sees it (Become What You Receive: A Systematic Study of the Eucharist (Hillenbrand Books), 207), neither Protestants nor Catholics started from the right spot in debating Eucharistic sacrifice. The “fatal flaw” in both was the equation of sacrifice with immolation. Catholic equated the two and said the Mass was a sacrifice; Protestants equated the two and said, No.
This fatal flaw was actually two flaws. On the one hand, they started from the premise that “sacrifice necessarily meant immolation or destruction of some sort.” On the other hand, they failed “to focus on Jesus’ personal sacrifice as doing away with or over-turning the understanding of ‘sacrifice’ as requiring ‘immolation.’” Theologians “might have made their starting point the relationship between Jesus and the Father, and, in the Spirit, between Jesus and his body the church. The outward form of meal would then be the efficacious sign or symbolic embodiment of those relationships.”
Drawing on the work of Robert Daly, McKenna suggests a Trinitarian and liturgical understanding of sacrifice helps cut through the impasse: ”Sacrifice ‘is, in the first place, the self-offering of the Father in the gift of his Son, and then the free self-offering response of the Son in his humanity, and in completion, the faithful, in the power of the Spirit, being taken up into that Father-Son relationship.”
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm
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