In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God Amen.
Today our Church teaches two most important thing. Christ’s humbleness and Holy communion.
Our Lord instituted the Sacrament Holy Communion on Thursday, just a few hours before His arrest and trial. After He had washed the feet of the disciples as a sign of their repentance and preparation, “He took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins’” (Mt 26:26-28) St. Paul said, “The Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Cor 11:23-26)
1.On Holy Eucharist
St. Cyril the Great, “Christ shall nullify the death of the body for those who receive Him as life to them. Of course, all the believers are subjected to the death of the body in this earthly life, but the Eucharist become for them a seed and an anti-corruption medicine for the eternal life. This is, undoubtedly, a supernatural gift from God grants to the believer through the sacrament of the Eucharist. However, this gracious gift cannot be gained except by those who believe”
St. Ignatius of Antioch “ I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasure of this life. I desire the Bread of God, which is the Flesh of Jesus Christ and for Drink i desire His Blood, which is Love incorruptible. …. Take note of those who heterodox opinion on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinion are to the mind of God… they abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they don’t confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, Flesh which suffered for our sins and the Father, in His goodness, raised up again.”
St John Chrysostom sermon on the eleventh hour of Holy Tuesday “Brethren, i like to remind you with what i have said many times to you at the partaking of the Holy mysteries of Christ. As I have seen, you are in terrible state of relaxation and carelessness that necessitate weeping, “are those people knowing well to whom they are standing, or recognizing the power of this sacrament?” the I find myself, out of my will, angry. I was hoping that, through you, I can get out of the tribulation of my soul. But if I rebuked any of you, he doesn’t care what I say. Yet, he grumbles against me as if I had injured him”.
Let us therefore in all respects put our faith in God and contradict Him in nothing, even if what is said seems to be contrary to our reasonings and to what we see. Let His WORD be of superior authority to reason and sight. This too be our practice in respect to the [Eucharistic] Mysteries, not looking only upon what is laid out before us, but taking heed also of His WORDS. For His WORD cannot deceive; but our senses are easily cheated. His WORD never failed; our senses err most of the time. When the WORD says, "THIS IS MY BODY," be convinced of it and believe it, and look at it with the eyes of the mind. For Christ did not give us something tangible, but even in His tangible things all is intellectual. So too with Baptism: the gift is bestowed through what is a tangible thing, water; but what is accomplished is intellectually perceived: the REBIRTH and the RENEWAL….How many now say, "I wish I could see his shape, His appearance, His garments, His sandals." ONLY LOOK! YOU SEE HIM! YOU TOUCH HIM! YOU EAT HIM! (Homilies on Matthew 82:4)
St. Ephraim “Our Lord Jesus took in His hands what in the beginning was only bread; and He blessed it, and signed it, and made it holy in the name of the Father and in the name of the Spirit; and He broke it and in His gracious kindness He distributed it to all His disciples one by one. He called the bread His living Body, and did Himself fill it with Himself and the Spirit. And extending His hand, He gave them the Bread which His right hand had made holy: "Take, all of you eat of this, which My word has made holy. Do not now regard as bread that which I have given you; but take, eat this Bread [of life], and do not scatter the crumbs; for what I have called My Body, that it is indeed. One particle from its crumbs is able to sanctify thousands and thousands, and is sufficient to afford life to those who eat of it. Take, eat, entertaining no doubt of faith, because this is My Body, and whoever eats it in belief eats in it Fire and Spirit. But if any doubter eat of it, for him it will be only bread. And whoever eats in belief the Bread made holy in My name, if he be pure, he will be preserved in his purity; and if he be a sinner, he will be forgiven." But if anyone despise it or reject it or treat it with ignominy, it may be taken as a certainty that he treats with ignominy the Son, who called it and actually made it to be His Body”
- On how the transformation of the bread and wine takes place:
St. John of Damascus “And now you ask how the bread becomes the body of Christ, and the wine and the water become the blood of Christ. I shall tell you. The Holy Spirit comes upon them, and achieves things which surpass every word and thought … Let it be enough for you to understand that this takes place by the Holy Spirit”
St. Cyril of Jerusalem “[Jesus Christ, by his own will, once changed water into wine at Cana of Galilee. So why should we not believe that he can change wine into blood? … We should therefore have full assurance that we are sharing in the body and blood of Christ. For in the type of bread, his body is given to you, and in the type of wine, his blood is given to you, so that by partaking of the body and blood of Christ you may become of one body and one blood with Him…. He [Jesus] himself therefore, having declared and said of the Bread “this is My BODY,” who will dare any longer to doubt? And when He Himself has affirmed and said, “this is MY BODY,” who can ever hesitate and say it is no His blood.”
Benefits of Holy Communion
- Abiding in Lord Jesus Christ: “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn 6:56). Consequently we bear the fruits of the spirit, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5)
- Obtaining Eternal Life: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day… He who eats this bread will live forever” (Jn 6:54,58)
- Growth & Maintenance of Our Spiritual Life: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you… For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed… he who feeds on Me will live because of Me” (Jn 6:53,55,57)
- Salvation & Remission of Sins: “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Mt 26:28) • Unification of Believers: “For we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (1 Cor 10:17)
Consequences of Unworthy Communion:
- St. Paul said, “Whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning (recognizing clearly) the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep (die). For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.” (1 Cor 11:27-31)
The Meaning of Worthiness:
- Orthodox Faith: The person who approaches the Eucharist must be an Orthodox Christian having no doubt concerning the bread & wine being the true body and precious blood of Lord Jesus Christ.
- Repentance & Confession: The person must be practicing the Sacrament of Repentance and Confession on regular basis as St. Paul said, “let a man examine himself” (1 Cor 11:28)
- Reconciliation With Others: Lord Jesus Christ said, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come offer your gift” (Mt 5:23-24)
- True Worthiness is Feeling Unworthy: St. Paul, the meek and humble apostle said, “I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this” (1 Cor 4:4)
- Obeying The Church Rules: concerning food abstinence before communion, physical cleanliness, and early attendance of the liturgy.
-This lecture is adapted from ‘The Church Sacraments’ by Archdeacon Habib Guirgess.
-A journey with The Church Fathers through Lent, Passion Week and Pentecost by Fr. MiKahil