Great and Holy Thursday, 29 April 2021 Byzantine Rite

            Our Lord has been diligent in offering signs, notable in recent memory by riding into Jerusalem on the back of  “a colt, the foal of an ass”.  Those of a mind to recognize the Messiah have a clear indication that a new covenant, one offering the liberation of Israel, is at hand.  Tonight, Our Lord gathers with some of His disciples to share the Passover meal.  Here He lays out a prescription for the New Covenant.

            Already, the posterity of Moses and the Patriarchs of Judea have a Eucharist, of a kind.  To celebrate their deliverance from captivity in Egypt, they share a meal together, intentionally symbolic of suffering and redemption, together.  Tonight, Christ Jesus identifies two particular elements with His own sacrifice, His death, and His resurrection, in which we are intended to share.  He took bread, blessed it, gave thanks unto God Our Father, broke it and gave it to His disciples saying, “Take and eat; this is My Body”. Likewise after they has supped, He took the cup of wine, gave thanks, blessed it, and gave it to His disciples saying, “Take and drink; this is My Blood.  The Blood of the New and Everlasting Covenant, which will be poured out for you and for a multitude of men in forgiveness of their sins.  Each time you do this, do so in remembrance of Me.” 

            Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit at His baptism in Jordan; this identifies Him as The Anointed – Christ.  His Apostles were anointed with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which is still to come.  This bread and wine are not, so far as the Gospel tells us, so anointed.  They shall be, for posterity, after the Church on Earth receives the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, but today, they are bread and wine, shared as the Body and Blood of Jesus of Nazareth, absent this special deification.  What He gives us are Words of institution. Do this in remembrance of Me.

            The Resurrection and Ascension did ultimately come to pass, and then Pentecost.  The Lord’s successors came to be anointed with the Holy Spirit, in the first century and in the twenty-first.  Just as John immersed Our Lord in the Jordan, today we immerse the wine that becomes the Blood of Christ in a chalice of water, and the Holy Spirit comes to rest upon it, and on the bread that becomes His Body.  The bread and wine we share in communion come to be not only the Body and Blood of Jesus, but in truth the Body and Blood of the ever-living Christ, and by “Do(ing) this in remembrance of (Him),” we not only obey His directive and have a part in the New Covenant, but we also take Jesus Christ into ourselves, and are with Him, here and now.

Holy things unto the holy.

Lord, though I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, only say the Word and my servant shall be healed.

~Mor Clement

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