Holy Thursday, 2012

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

The Lord enjoined us to pray, “Give us this day out daily bread.” “Daily” means something very important and necessary to our existence, the main support of our earthly lives.

Bur “daily bread” can and should be understood in a wider sense: the Lord calls himself the Bread of Heaven that gives eternal life; He is even more vital than the daily nourishment our bodies need, because He gives eternal life: For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world (John 6:33).

We partake of this Heavenly Bread through faith and prayer: He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (John 6:35). But we commune most fully with the Heavenly Bread through the Mystery of the Eucharist (i.e., Thanksgiving), since in this case the body as well as the soul communes with Christ. For the body must also communicate with eternity as the Lord said: Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:54). When the Lord spoke these words they seemed savage and nonsensical to many people—even some of His disciples—and they abandoned Him.

At the Last Super before His Passion, the Lord established the Mystery of the Eucharist, in which bread and wine change into the Body and Blood of the Lord: Take eat this is My body... Drink ye all of it; For this is My blood of the new testament (Matthew 26:26-28).

In the mystery of salvation there cannot be anything formal: where there is grace there is freedom, according to the apostle Paul. But freedom requires active participation of human beings going to meet the saving God. The mystery of salvation is a person's meeting with God: God saves, and the person is saved. Christ died for everyone and redeemed everyone. But this is only one aspect, the objective side. In the Mystery of the Eucharist Christ's act of redemptive suffering on the Cross is reproduced in essence. The Lord said: This do in remembrance of Me (Luke 22:19) In remembrance of what? The Last Supper? No. In remembrance of Christ's sufferings on the Cross. And those who participate in this Mystery by partaking of the Holy Gifts commune to the greatest degree possible with the redemption the Lord effected though applying it to oneself personally and subjectively.

Each day we eat bread and water, and this nourishment imperceptibly for us is transformed into our flesh and blood. This surprises no one, because it is a biological law.

But the spirit also has its laws. Mystery does not tolerate investigation because the action of the spirit does not submit to rationalization—this is the domain of faith.

But many do not understand this and try to rationalize moments of the Mystery, and as a result in the given case reduce the Mystery to only remembrance of the Last Supper. This is the view that all Protestant denominations confess.

We Orthodox, however, maintain the meaning of the Eucharist found in the Gospels: via communion we mystically unite ourselves to Christ, and this unity gives us life eternal, as it is described in the sixth chapter of the Gospel according to John. Thus it was conveyed to us by the Holy Apostles, and thus our Church has kept it from time immemorial. Amen.