Biblical Meditation: For the Life of the World

Sunday June 19, 2022, feast of the Blessed Sacrament, four texts will be read.
First reading Book of Genesis (Gn 14, 18-20).
Psalm 109.
Second reading First Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 11, 23-26).
The Gospel according to Saint Luke (Lk 9, 11b-17).

First Letter to the Corinthians 11, 23-26
Brothers, I myself have received what comes from the Lord,
and I sent it to you:
the night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread,
then, having given thanks, he broke it, and said:
“This is my body, which is for you.
Do this in memory of me. »
After the meal, he did the same with the cup, saying:
“This cup is the new Covenant in my blood.
Whenever you drink it, do it in memory of me. »
So therefore, each time you eat this bread
and you drink this cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord, until he comes.

Eucharist and anamnesis

The words that the apostle Paul addresses to the Corinthians bring us back to the heart of the divine liturgy: “Each time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord, until he comes. » By offering the bread and the wine, Jesus Christ himself becomes the offering of the sacrifice, thus replacing all the immolated victims and all the holocausts.

The sacrifice of the Cross, received and accepted by the Father, is accomplished for the life of the world. Since the resurrection of Christ, the altar and the cross, by the invocation of the Holy Spirit, are united in a single mystical event, that of the divine liturgy, a divine-human work par excellence.

How should we understand this memorial? The Greek term “anamnesis”, meaning remembrance, memory, designates, in the liturgical and Eucharistic perspective, an act making actual an event not only of the past, but also to come.

“It is characteristic, wrote Archimandrite Cyprien Kern, that the commemoration extends to all times and not only to the past. In the Eucharistic commemoration, the frontiers of the past, the present and the future mingle. The Eucharistic service, in words and not in blood, is timeless, not subject to the laws of our sensitive perceptions and our logic. We remember, in our liturgy, even the future. »

To the rhythm of the divine liturgy

How is it possible ? This is possible, from the moment when this memory does not simply evoke the memory of men, but also that of God. During the Eucharistic liturgy, the anamnesis reminds the memory of the congregation of the work of salvation that God has accomplished for us.

Thus, during the divine liturgy, we do not only participate in the unique sacrifice of the Saviour, but also in his Resurrection, his Ascension and his glorious return at the end of time. If we carefully follow its internal rhythm, the divine liturgy takes us to that unprecedented day of the new creation, the “eighth day”, when “God will be all in all”. It represents in itself this passage, the mystical Passover, from what is already, towards what is to come.

Saint Nicolas Cabasilas, a great lay theologian of the XIVe century, would have formulated it thus: “That is why heaven and earth, the whole visible universe, were created. For that paradise, for that the prophets, for that God Himself incarnate; his teachings, his actions, his sufferings, his death: so that men may be transferred from earth to heaven and become heirs of the Kingdom. (…) It is for this reason that the Saviour, when he instituted this sacrament, instituted it by giving thanks to his Father that by this sacrament he was going to open heaven to us and unite up there around the First- Born this glorious assembly. »

Practice the Eucharistic vision of God

However, the Eucharist, like everything in this world, still submits to the regime of non-transparency that reigns there. Now we see as though through opaque glass, in riddles; now we only know in part (1 Corinthians 13:12). However, today, more than ever, it becomes vital to practice this Eucharistic vision of God, of man and of the world, because the present times need more than ever men and women of integrity, priests, prophets and kings of the Kingdom already there and yet to come.

Julija Vidovic is a professor of bioethics and the history of ecumenical councils at the Saint-Serge Orthodox Theological Institute; Lecturer at the Catholic Institute of Paris.

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Biblical Meditation: For the Life of the World

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