In the Eucharist communion with God is restored
At the Mystical Supper in the Upper Room Jesus gave a dramatically new meaning to the food and drink of the sacred meal. He identified Himself with the bread and wine: “Take, eat; this is my Body. Drink of it all of you; for this is my Blood of the New Covenant” (Matthew 26:26-28). Food had always sustained the earthly existence of everyone, but in the Eucharist the Lord gave us a distinctively unique human food – bread and wine – that by the power of the Holy Spirit, has become our gift of life.
Consecrated and sanctified, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. This change is not physical but mystical and sacramental. While the qualities of the bread and wine remain, we partake of the true Body and Blood of Christ. In the eucharistic meal God enters into such a communion of life that He feeds humanity with His own being, while still remaining distinct. In the words of St. Maximos the Confessor, Christ, “transmits to us divine life, making Himself eatable.” The Author of life shatters the limitations of our createdness. Christ acts so that “we might become sharers of divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).
From the moment Christ instituted this Mystery, the Eucharist became the center of the Church’s life, and her most profound prayer. The Eucharist is both the source and the summit of our life in Christ. It is in the Eucharist that the Church is changed from a mere human community into the Body of Christ, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and the People of God. The Eucharist is the pre-eminent sacrament, as it completes all the others and recapitulates the entire economy of salvation. Through the Eucharist our new life in Christ is renewed and increased. The Eucharist imparts life and the life it gives is the life of God.
The Church is that place where heaven and earth are united, and where we can live as we were meant to be, as before the Fall. The Church’s Divine Liturgy is that place where the disunity that came with the Fall is put aside, and communion with God is restored. Our participation in the Divine Liturgy is the moment when we are restored to the Garden of Eden, and God and man walk together. The Divine Liturgy unites us to the Heavenly Banquet which is taking place before the Throne of God.
The Divine Liturgy transcends time, and space, uniting believers in the worship of the Kingdom of God along with all the heavenly hosts, the saints, and the celestial angels. To this end, everything in the Liturgy is seen as symbolic, yet also not just merely symbolic, but making the unseen reality manifest in our midst.
We do not attend the Divine Liturgy, but participate in the Divine Liturgy, for in communing with God, we receive the Bread of Life. The Liturgy lifts us up above the disordered and dysfunctional world, and we are placed on the path to restoration and wholeness, healed by the self-emptying love of Christ, and communion with God is restored.
With love in Christ,
Photos: Hieromonk Paul serving the Agape Vespers on Pascha Day.
Monday April 17, 2017 / April 4, 2017
Bright Week. Fast-free
Entire week, fast-free.
Venerable Joseph the Hymnographer of Sicily (883).
Venerable George, monk, of Mt. Maleon in the Peloponnesus (9th c.).
New Hieromartyrs Archimandrite Benjamin (Kononov) and Hieromonk Nicephorus (Kuchin) of Solovki (1928).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas bishop of Velsk, martyr Mary (1932).
New Hieromartyr John priest (1933).
Martyr John (1943).
Venerable Joseph the Muchailing of the Kiev Caves (14th c.).
Venerable Zosimas, abbot of Vorbozomsk (1550).
Venerable Zosimas, monk, of Palestine (560).
Virgin-martyr Pherbutha of Persia, her sister and servants (343).
New Hieromartyr Nicetas the Serb of Albania, Mt. Athos and Serres (1808).
Venerable Theonas, metropolitan of Thessalonica (1541).
Icons of the Mother of God, named “Gerontissa” and “Deliveress”.
St. Isidore, bishop of Seville (636).
Holy Martyr Kallinikos.
Venerable James of Old Torzhok in Galich, Kostroma (15th-16th c.).
Martyr Basil of Mangazea in Siberia (1602).
The Scripture Readings
The Upper Room Prayer Meeting
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, 16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; 17 for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.”
21 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
A Voice in the Wilderness
19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”
20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
And he answered, “No.”
22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”
23 He said: “I am
‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Make straight the way of the Lord,”’
as the prophet Isaiah said.”
24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27 It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”
28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.