Discussing my previous post on Facebook, a couple of further thoughts came to mind that are worth briefly mentioning here.
First: I think one’s interpretation of the words of institution largely depends on who you think is doing the talking when we celebrate the Mass. If it’s us who are doing the talking, then that will push us towards a metaphorical understanding of them (since we are just remembering / re-enacting what Jesus said and did).
But if it’s Christ who is doing the talking, through his minister, then that’s a different matter. Here is Christ, saying right here and right now, about this bread and this wine: “this is my body, this is the new testament in my blood; take, eat and drink.”
Secondly: one common response to all this is to say that the Supper is a “mystery” – the implication being that we can’t be sure whether Christ is being “literal” or “metaphorical” when he addresses these words to us.
Yes, the Supper is a mystery, but we should not make mysterious what Christ has made clear, any more than we should claim to make clear what Christ has kept mysterious. Christ’s promise – “this is my body, this is my blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins” – is clear. How bread and wine can become the body and blood of Christ is indeed a great mystery – but that mystery shouldn’t make us doubt or deny the clarity of the promise itself.
Talking of Facebook (you see what I did there?), I read something at work saying that Facebook is going to “dominate” social media in 2015. Which is a slightly depressing prospect, but hey, that’s the world we’re living in. So I now have a Facebook page for this blog. If “Liking” pages on Facebook is something you do (I’m being totally hypocritical here, as I try to avoid it), then I’d be very grateful if you would do so with this. If not: that’s fine, too. 🙂