Saturday, September 22, 2012

Homily from St. John Chrysostom (c.347-407)

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion in the blood of Christ?
Do you seek, blessed Paul, to rouse your hearer to a sense of reverence when you mention tremendous mysteries, and call this fearful and awe-inspiring cup a cup of blessing?
Yes, he replies…. When I speak of blessing, I mean to unfold the whole treasure of God’s goodness to us, and call to mind his wonderful gifts.
It is in gratitude for these and all other such blessings that we approach the Sacrament.
[...] The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion in the blood of Christ? What great confidence and awe there is in these words!
Paul means that in the cup is the same blood that flowed from Christ’s side, and it is that of which we partake.
He called it a cup of blessing because, when we hold it in our hands, we raise our hearts to God in wonder and amazement at his unspeakable gift.
We praise him because Christ shed this very blood so that we might not remain in error; and not only did he shed his blood, but he gave all of us a share of it.
The bread which we break, is it not a communion in the body of Christ?
The Apostle did not say ‘a participation’, because he wanted to signify something more than this.
For when we communicate it is not merely a matter of sharing and partaking, but of being united.
In the same way as a body was united with Christ, so we are united with him by this bread.
But why did he add, which we break? This we can see is done at the Eucharist, but it was not so on the Cross; rather the contrary, for Scripture says: Not a bone of his shall be broken.
But although he did not suffer this on the Cross, he suffers it now in his offering on your behalf; he allows himself to be broken so that all may be filled.
Paul used the phrase: a communion in the body; but there is a difference between communicants and the body we receive in communion, and so he set about removing even this distinction, small as it might seem.
For after he had spoken of a communion in the body, he still sought to define his meaning more accurately, and therefore added, Because there is one bread, we although many are one body.
John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on The Epistles to the Corinthians 24.1-2 (PG 61:199-201); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Sunday of the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time, Year I.

No comments: