Politics of Advent
December 21, 2020

Micah 3: Hear now, O heads of Jacob, and you rulers of the house of Israel: Is it not for you to know justice? You who hate good and love evil; who strip the skin from My people, and the flesh from their bones; who also eat the flesh of My people, flay their skin from them, break their bones, and chop them in pieces like meat for the pot, like flesh in the caldron.

The rulers of Israel were engaged in a macabre sacrificial rite. They follow all the procedures to a T. When a priest performed an ascension offering at the temple, he stripped the skin from the animal, dismembered the animal into its pieces, and tossed the pieces into the fire for Yahweh to consume.

This is precisely what Micah says the heads of Jacob are doing. They flay the people, chop them in pieces, and drop them in a pot to cook. They consider themselves gods, accepting human sacrifices.

But how is the Eucharist any different? After all, we’re celebrating a sacrificial meal. We say we’re eating the body of Jesus and drinking his blood. We cite John 6, where Jesus says that we have no life in ourselves and have life only if we eat His flesh and drink His blood. Is this table just another table of oppression and injustice? Are we just another group of cannibal kings?

We shouldn’t respond by saying that we aren’t really eating flesh and drinking blood. That response misses the actual contrast between this table and the cannibal table of the oppressive rulers of Israel. The real contrast, the real antithesis, only comes out when we fully acknowledge the resemblance. Only then can we fully recognize how the Eucharist presents a counter-politics, a counter-politics of Advent and incarnation.

At the table, we consume a sacrificial victim and feed on His flesh and blood. But the one whose body and blood we eat and drink gave Himself willingly for us. We have Him as our true food because He has given Himself as our food, not because we have seized Him as a sacrificial victim.

And, crucially, at this table we feed on the body and blood of the Son of God through the work of the Spirit. Jesus offered Himself in complete obedience as the Incarnate Son of God , and so He gives Himself finally and completely, once for all, a sacrifice to end all sacrifices.

We can see how important it is to renounce Arianism. For if Jesus is not the Son of God, then His sacrifice is not the final sacrifice, and we are still cannibal kings prowling around looking for whomever we may devour.

Since He is the Son of God in human flesh, His sacrifice is a divine sacrifice, the final sacrifice. “His one unrepeatable sacrifice, His death by torture on the cross, serves to abolish other blood sacrifices once and for all. We do not find other bodies to torture and sacrifice, but only remember in the Eucharist the one sacrifice which takes away the world’s pain.”

When He offers Himself at this table, He is not perpetuating the cannibal politics of the world, but initiating a new politics, a politics of self-giving love and righteousness, a Christian politics, a Eucharistic politics.

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