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Preface VI of the Sundays in Ordinary Time
It was more common in times past, but when you purchased a bottle of soda, the price of the bottle was included in the purchase (deposit) and you would return the empty bottle to the store and receive the deposit back, normally a few cents, and the bottle would be cleaned and reused.
However, when a bottle was labelled “No Deposit, No Return” you couldn’t return it for a refund. After the Fall we were labelled, in a sense, “No Deposit, No Return”; we weren’t even eligible for recycling, just the trash. With Christ’s coming that damning and dooming label was changed to “Deposit and Return.”
The pledge of the eternal Passover
The Passover commemorates when the Angel of Death passed over the homes of the observant Israelites. Our Lord instituted the Eucharist on or near the celebration of Passover. With Christ, we’re prepared for an eternal Passover where the Angel of Death will never pass over us again. Every time the Jews celebrated the Passover they also looked forward to a day when they would be definitively liberated from all their enemies. We celebrate the Eucharist looking forward to the day when it will finish liberating us from death forever.
“For in you we live and move and have our being, and while in this body we not only experience the daily effects of your care, but even now possess the pledge of life eternal.”
There’s a difference between a promise and a pledge; with a promise you declare that you will do something or refrain from doing something, while a pledge involves giving something as a guarantee you’ll deliver. Our Lord does not just promise the eternal Passover; he’s instituted the Eucharist as the first deposit or pledge of that eternal Passover. Death has already begun to be overthrown in us through the sacraments, and we believe he’ll deliver on his pledge.
“For, having received the first fruits of the Spirit, through whom you raised up Jesus from the dead, we hope for an everlasting share in the Paschal Mystery.”
St. Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians describes the Holy Spirit as the guarantee of an eternal inheritance: “who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” (Ephesians 1:14). The word “guarantee” here translates a Greek term with a Hebrew provenance that could also be described as a “down payment.” With the Holy Spirit “deposited” in us through baptism we receive a down payment on eternal life; it is in us right now, to be followed by payment after payment until paid in full: eternal life.
For Christ, the Paschal Mystery has definitively left death behind. Every celebration of the Eucharist is a participation in the Paschal Mystery. The Spirit will help us one day to leave death definitively behind too, in Christ. Deposit and return.