митрополит Антоний Су́рожский (Блум)


SERMON on Holy Communion 1984, August 26

Week after week we receive Communion to the Holy Body and the Precious, Life-giving Blood of Christ; week after week we come to Him and say, «Lord! Unite us with Thee as intimately, as perfectly as a twig grafted on a life-giving tree can be united to it. Grant us so to be at one with Thee, O Lord, that Thy life may flow in us, Thy divinity pervade us, Thy holiness fill us, Thy purity be ours...»

And when we think of ourselves, we see how little of this does happen. We receive joy, we receive the sense that for a moment we have come so close to our God and our Saviour; and then, what happens? St Paul teaches us that the gifts of God are never taken away; what He has given us remains ours for ever. Yes – but it is buried at times so deeply in us that we ourselves have no access to what is ours, ours by the gift of God, and ours by our faith and longing. In order to be at one with Christ, it is not enough to receive Communion; it is essential for us to remain in communion with Him.

How can we do this? You remember how on the way to Jerusalem two of Christ's disciples came to Him saying, «When You come to Your Kingdom – may we sit on Your right and on Your left hand? »... Christ had just been speaking of His approaching Passion, of His coming death, and He ended this prophecy by telling of His Resurrection and victory. And all they saw, all they heard was the word 'victory' and they did not notice at what cost this victory had been won.

Are not we so much, so terribly, so sadly like them? We come to Christ and ask for joy, for strength, for inspiration, for help; we ask for the Kingdom of God to come and be within us, we ask for the peace of God to uphold us, now, without our doing anything about it. And as Christ asked His disciples then, He asks us now: Are you prepared to drink My cup? Are you prepared to be merged in the ordeal that will be Mine? ...

The Apostles, not knowing really what they were saying, said they were. We do not even say that. Do we realize, do we really desire that when we receive Communion, we should so be united to Christ, that His destiny on earth – not in Heaven – should become ours? That we should be, as He was, sent like sheep among the wolves, that we should come into the world as witnesses, as heralds of a Kingdom of Love; and of a love that is prepared to suffer Crucifixion, to suffer death and burial in order to communicate itself to others? Are we prepared to love in such a way that our carrying the deadness of Christ in our souls and bodies, our dying in regard to all evil and sin should be our gift to our neighbour? How often do we receive Communion in a greedy and selfish way in order to possess the Kingdom, to possess the peace, the joy and inspiration in order that Communion should break the barriers that exist between God and us, our lack of that integrity to which we are called. How often do we come and say, Lord! Grant me to commune to Thy crucified Body, to Thy Body broken for the salvation of the world, to Thy Blood shed for the salvation of the world within the limits which my frailty imposes?

We come too easily to Communion, it would seem that we come too often if one had to judge by the fruits which we bear. Let us think of it, think deeply; and when we come to the Cup, and when we receive the Holy Bread and the Precious Blood, let us remember that our vocation is to be on earth now what Christ was on earth, and our destiny is that of Christ.

If we turn away from it, we have betrayed our vocation, betrayed our Lord, received in vain the Gift which is offered. But to achieve our vocation we must undertake a hard, a ruthless struggle with everything within us which is unworthy of God, unworthy of the integrity to which we are called, unworthy of the calling which is ours, our vocation to be throughout history in the course of all our life the incarnate presence of Christ in Whom we are, and Who is in us.

Let us think; let us judge ourselves that we may not be judged, let us judge ourselves honestly, and if from our last Communion to the one we long for we have done nothing to be Christ's own people in purity of heart, in cleanliness of mind, in a life worth of our calling, then, let us repent, but let us not come again and again to ask for more, grace while we squander the grace which is given. May God give us wisdom and determination; He will give us strength, but we must accept it and work with it.

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