Where 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: The first photo is of the Divine Liturgy being celebrated by His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill, in Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco. The Second photo shows His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and All Russia, concelebrating the Divine Liturgy with His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, together with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.
Tuesday April 17, 2018 / April 4, 2018
Radonitsa, or Day of Rejoicing. Commemoration of the Dead. Tone one.
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).
Virgin-martyr Mary (1932).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas bishop of Velsk (1933).
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).
Icons of the Mother of God, named “Gerontissa” and “Deliveress”.
New Hieromartyr Nicetas the Serb of Albania, Mt. Athos and Serres (1808).
Venerable Theonas, metropolitan of Thessalonica (1541).
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
Peter and John Arrested
4 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
Addressing the Sanhedrin
5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, 6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”