metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

On communion and life

August 1971
Theme: Liturgy, Sacraments   Place: London Parish   Period: 1971-1975   Genre: Sermon

In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

We hear week after week the Lord saying, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me’, and we always apply these words, and rightly so, to the celebration of the Last Supper, to the breaking of the bread, to the sharing of the cup, to the holy meal which Christ had with His disciples.

And we are right to do so because it was the prefiguration of the Banquet of the Lamb, of the great feast of eternity, because all of us we have been created by God in order to be His companions for eternity; and a companion is one who breaks the bread with us, who is received at the host’s table, who is made an equal to his host by this law of hospitality and of love.

And the Last Supper was this; Christ broke the bread and shared the cup, He made His disciples unto His companions and, as this bread and wine were Him, He united His companions to Himself in an unspeakable way to be one body and one life.

But the words which Christ told, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me’ do not apply only to the last Supper, to the holy and divine Liturgy which we celebrate. What He was doing in the Upper Room was also an image of what His life and death were. The breaking of the bread was the breaking of His body, the sharing of the cup was the shading of His blood, and what was signified in the last Supper was the Garden of Gethsemane with the anguish and the horror of the coming death upon Him Who was free of evil and yet chose to share with us our destiny of dereliction and mortality, and of Calvary, the actual dying for the salvation of others, — more than this: the dying of their death so that they should share and possess His life.

And if we are to take in earnest what we do here, week after week, feast after feast, celebrating the Last Supper of the Lord, breaking the bread together and sharing the cup, we must remember that this act makes us one with each other, because we become so one with Christ, but also that all that is true, of the life and the sacrificial death of Christ must become true for us and in us. We must so live as Christ lived for others, we must so die as Christ died, that others may live. We must so ascend from life into this sacrificial generous life-giving death as Christ did, and this lays upon us a heavy, a stern and glorious responsibility.

Let us take it earnestly, because otherwise our celebration is empty of meaning. We cannot come day after day and ask Christ to let us become partaker of what happens in the Upper Room if we accept to be estranged, to be alien to what it stood for His life, His incarnation, His teaching, His facing the coming death, His dying our death that we may live.

Let us think about it and reconsider all our relationships with others, rethink all our attitude to those who are around us. Do we live for their sake? Is our life an offering? Are we like the Apostles of whom Paul spoke in today’s Epistle, like men sent in the last times to bring a witness of love and pay the cost for it, so that life should be (theirs), should belong to those who surround us whether they love or hate us, and death should be ours, the death of Christ, sacrificial, holy, an offering of love, brought not only to God, but to each person who needs it. Amen.

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