Thursday, May 29, 2008

Third Sunday of Pentecost: Sunday of the Divine Body

In the ACCA calendar, the Third Sunday of Pentecost, which was last Sunday this year, is the "Sunday of the Divine Body" and therefore, corresponds with the Latin Rite feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (where celebrated on Sunday), aka Corpus Christi. The Gospel reading is from John 6, either 30-46 or 47-58, and the Epistle Reading is I Cor. 11:23-28, which records St. Paul's account of the institution of the Qurbana, the Eucharist, at the Last Supper.

As is well known, John's Gospel does not record the institution of the Eucharist; however, in John 6, Jesus speaks clearly of what can only refer to the Eucharist: "the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world" and "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Adam and drink his blood, you shall not have life within you".

Throughout the history of the Church, especially in the West, there have been various debates about the exact meaning of this Real Presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine of the Eucharist. Opinions have ranged from what is called transubstantiation to an outright denial of the Real Presence in some post-reformation quarters. A large problem for many following traditions flowing from the reformation is the practice of eucharistic adoration. Calvin, for example, considered such worship frank idolatry and went to great lengths to attempt to establish both that the faithful (or at least the elect) truly receive Christ in the Eucharist and that, at the same time, worship of the elements is forbidden.

Well, as they say down here, "That dog won't hunt." Beyond all philosophical theories of how Christ is present in the consecrated elements, this is the acid test: will you worship Christ so present? If the answer is "yes," you are in the mainstream of the Apostolic Tradition concerning this question. If your answer is "no," then you are not.

1 comment:

Mother Clement said...

Father, I'm grateful for this as you touch on something that causes a question to arise.
Mind you, this is from an apologetical standpoint.

What can be said to one who posits that Jesus' words - "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day" (NKJV translation) - cannot be taken literally because that would mean that all those who do not believe in the Real Presence of the Eucharist have no life in them, ie. no salvation and will not be raised up at the last day.

This is essentially what some think we are saying.

Now I am sure that Orthodoxy would not 'un-church' or 'un-save' those Christians who, by virtue of their lack of understanding, cannot embrace the great Grace and Mystery of the Eucharist.
So, what would be a good way to approach this, do you think?

Mother +Clement, OCB