How did the bread at the Last Supper become the glorified resurrected Body of Christ if Christ had not died and risen yet?
Because Jesus is fully God (as well as fully human) and God exists out of time. Unlike humans who need to follow linear time, God is present in the past, present and future at once so Jesus is actually holding His glorified, resurrected body in His own hands at the last supper.
Mind blowing, isn’t?
Did the early Church understand it this way as well?
Is there some type of Church document, book, or article that goes in depth with this issue of Jesus’s resurrected Body being present at the Last Supper even though he had not died yet?
St. Thomas Aquinas says (ST III 81, a3) that it was *not *his glorified body:
…] Innocent III says (De Sacr. Alt. Myst. iv), “He bestowed on the disciples His body such as it was.” But then He had a passible and a mortal body. Therefore, He gave a passible and mortal body to the disciples. …] Yet there was present in the sacrament, in an impassible manner, that which was passible of itself… [Thus] Christ is said not to have given His mortal and passible body at the supper, because He did not give it in mortal and passible fashion.
It was a miracle.
LOL Sounds like Aquinas is hedging his bets pretty carefully.
I’ve excerpted it so as not to overwhelm. If you read the whole article you might have a little more respect for the Church’s preeminent theologian.
Wow Aquinas has such a beautiful way of explaining it! So Aquinas is essentially saying that Christ’s body at the Last Supper was passible but His body which we receive now is impassible? Also he speaks of Christ’s body being passible at the Last Super but being given impassibly through the sacrament?
I did say “carefully.”
God the Son is the source of all grace on Earth. During his Earthly ministry, he prepared the matter for sacrament, in preparation for their reception of Grace.
At Jordan, He prepared water to cleanse sin.
At Canaan, He prepared marriage among those cleansed in water to be joined for life.
At the anointing, He prepared the oil used by the women to seal with the Holy Spirit, and by reassuring her, he prepared the oil to heal and comfort.
At the delivery of the keys of heaven, He prepared Man to hear and forgive sin.
At the Last Supper, He prepared bread and wine to become his body and blood, and prepared man to be priests who could consecrate as he did. If you recall, Christ already possessed his Glory, as demonstrated at the Transfiguration, thus his Eucharist was true.
Upon his death and resurrection, he destroyed death and by assuming his Glorified Body, prepared humanity for its own.
At Pentecost, God the Son sent God the Holy Spirit to empower the sacraments the He previous prepared. With the birth of His Church fifty days following his resurrection, the Sacraments became fruitful, and spread the grace of God the Father throughout the Earth.
As chief priest, Christ sacrificed himself to save humanity from death, and spread his his life giving grace through the sacraments he empowered in His Holy Church.
I understand you only pulled a small part out for us, but if you would indulge me, I am not well versed in Aquinas and I am not certain what I am reading above.
While on Earth, Jesus had a mortal body. When resurrected He had a glorified body. Is Thomas saying that in the Eucharist we receive, under the appearance of bread, the mortal body, the glorified body, both or something else?
I appreciate any insight you can give me (I will just take a link if it is too long to post).
Yes, at least in this particular passage. I’m not an expert on St. Thomas, just going by what he says in the article in question.
Yes, because “it is those species which are acted upon and are seen, but not Christ’s own body.” In other words, when the Apostles consumed the sacrament, they didn’t cause Christ physical pain, not because his body was then glorified but because the force of chewing and digestion act only on the accidents of bread and wine.
At the Last Supper they received his mortal body; since the resurrection we receive his glorified body. At least that is my understanding. Theologians might make finer distinctions between ‘glorified’ and ‘impassible.’
If you want to read the whole passage it is linked in the initial post, but I’ll post it here also: S.T. III, 81, a3.
St. Thomas even answers the question, “Whether, if this sacrament had been reserved in a pyx, or consecrated at the moment of Christ’s death by one of the apostles, Christ Himself would have died there?” (S.T. III, 81, a4)
I am not wholly convinced of Aquinas’s conclusions on the matter. Maybe I’m reading him wrong but it seems to me that he is restricting the Eucharist too much to a temporal linearity. It need not be so.