Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Part Thirteen


     The Eucharist has always been the basis for divine worship. Iniquity and sins had separated man from God as well as introducing death, however the virtue and righteousness of Christ has reconciled man and  the holy Eucharist is the bond between God and man!

     Iniquity and sin were committed by the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, who acted contrary to the law and will of God. Christ the Son of God, who is the New Adam, always acted in accordance with the law, and although he was faultless and righteous yet he was unjustly put to death under the law.  However, this unjust death on the Cross became the total overthrow and loss of authority of the devil and his demons.  Christ suffered everything including insults, mockery, slander, spitting, scourging and crucifixion.  They were entirely unaware that the Lord Christ voluntarily submitted to His Passion and death for the purpose of  destroying their illicit authority and the power of the wicked devil who from the beginning had tyrannized the first man and his descendants, in his  rebellion against God.

     According to the divine law whatever was unjustly taken from a wronged person must be returned manifold. Christ’s life was unjustly taken from Him although He was sinless, and therefore was not legally subject to death. And the lives of all  men who ever existed or will exist, are not equal to the life of Christ which is infinte. Under the law, the Lifegiver bestows life upon all those who come to Him in faith and love, and keeping His commandments they gain eternal which is man’s greatest and infinite treasure.   Sadly, although eternal life is offered to all men, relatively few show interest because the pleasures and attractions of this material world holds them tightly in its grips. And wicked unbelief has gripped their hearts.

     The Lord’s death on the Cross, says St. Paul, is proclaimed through the mystery of the Eucharist. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes”
     This assertion signifies that the mystery of the Eucharist commemorates the propitious sacrifice on the Cross, and that the commemoration shall continue until the second coming of the Lord. 

     The celebration of the Mystery and the propitious sacrifice of the Cross are one as the Lord himself said, when He celebrated the first Mystery saying: “This cup is the New Testament in my blood,” that is, this cup contains my blood by which the New Testament is confirmed and the relations between God and man subsist. Accordingly if the true body and the true blood of the Lord lies upon the altar of the Christian Church, exactly as upon the Cross, both sacrifices are essentially one and they although they differ with respect to mode and place, or rather, there is one sacrifice, extending from Golgotha exists in every place, subsisting in the eyes of the Lord until the end of the world. If this be so, and the sacrifice of Eucharist is identical with the propitious sacrifice on the Cross, it follows that it is because thereof that there subsists a relation and connection between God and man, and that the Mystery is the basis of divine worship; for without this Mystery we are unable to  worship God or commune with Him.

     All of our duties arise from relations which the New Testament, sealed with Christ’s blood, and established between God and men, according to Christ’s testimony found in these two commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; this is the first commandment. A second one is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” The performance of these two commandments on which hang all the law and the prophets depends on the power of the Eucharist. For he who eats and drinks the body and blood of the Lord will surely understand that God so loved him and gave His only begotten Son so that he might be nourished by His mysteries and live forever.

     Whoever is fed and lives because of God’s food, will know that he is a son of God, and will love and honor his heavenly Father becoming more and more like Christ always seeking and willing to do all that is pleasing to Him. Therefore the first commandment is to be performed and is made capable of being performed by virtue and activity of the food of the Mystery of the Eucharist. Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, with proper preparation followed by preparatory and thankful Communion prayers which strengthen our souls. The Holy Communion of Christ’s Body and Blood is the most important Mystery in the Church, and is the bond between God and man, and this bond strengthens as we become more Christ-like and love Him with all our hearts and souls.

     Your wisdom Lord,  is worthy of high praise, for it accomplishes the greatest things by means of the weakest, as Paul has said: “the foolishness of God is stronger than men.” For what is weaker than a lamb being led to slaughter; and what is more foolish according to men than the incarnation of the Logos of God and the deification of leavened bread? Nevertheless, the slaughtered Lamb,  and the hallowed bread, the Cross of Christ and the Mystery which proclaims the Lord’s death on the Cross all make us wiser and stronger far beyond the wisdom of this world, and these things will triumph against and overthrow the rulers and authorities of this and every other age.                                                                                                                                                                   
     The Eucharist being the center of worship in the Orthodox Church throughout the world is the bond between God and man. The Church is both earthly and heavenly, human and divine as is its Head and Lord. In the same way as a husbandman who sows seeds has a right to expect vegetation and the bearing of fruit from the earth, so the heavenly Father has a right to expect from us the performance of all the divine Law and of all righteousness. What defense can we offer for doing nothing?  Lord, you are good and righteous and holy but we are fools and villains, have mercy upon us who confess our villainy and foolishness, for on our account your name is blasphemed and dishonored among the nations, but to you is due all praise, honor and glory, to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen. 

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