As head of the new human race, Jesus Christ reverses what Adam had done as the head of the old human race (Romans 5:18-20). Sin had produced death, hostility, war and estrangement between peoples, but with His grace Jesus Christ — the new Adam — brings peace and life once again, reproducing the conditions to obtain paradise for the human race.
Of course, this ultimate experience of paradise will not take place until the end of time, but Christ’s Church and His redemptive power are working right now on earth to produce it and to set the conditions for its ultimate fulfillment. The holy lives of the saints is the prelude to eternal life and their works anticipate the new heaven and the new earth, which will not come as a result of human progress, but of God’s providential plan.
No good is ever lost. If what we do on earth is done in Christ, those actions won’t be lost, but will be transformed and found again in the next life (Vatican II, “Gaudium et Spes,” 39). This means that our actions each day are redemptive in so far as they’re connected with Christ the King, who will ultimately deliver the Kingdom to His Father (1 Corinthians 15:24).
Jesus’ entire life is summarized in the Eucharist, the fulfillment of the old Passover feast. At the Last Supper and on Calvary, our redemption was secured and given the power to propagate itself throughout time.
In the words of Pope John Paul II, “The Eucharist is a straining toward the goal, a foretaste of the fullness of joy promised by Christ (John 15:11); it is in some way the anticipation of heaven, the pledge of future glory” (“Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” 18).
When we participate in the Mass with devotion, we’re identifying ourselves more and more with Christ; we’re offering ourselves with God the Son to God the Father in the love of God the Holy Spirit. We’re gaining the power to become — in a word —
This is a far different view of the Mass than as a mere obligation, or as a monotonous ceremony. When viewed with faith, the Holy Mass gives life and hope to the world. For this reason, if we ourselves wish to be other Christs, and to participate in His Redemption in the fullest way, we should strive to make the Eucharist the center of our spiritual life, and to connect all of our actions with it — which is really the most exciting, fulfilling thing we can do with our lives, though not without pain.
Father Giesler is a priest of Opus Dei living at the Wespine Center in St. Louis. He has written a book and several articles on Sacred Scripture and the natural law.
This is the last of a five-part series exploring redemption.