By: Very Rev. K. Mathai Cor-Episcopa
The gospel passage selected for reading in the Holy Communion is from St. John 6: 26-35.
Especially V. 35 which says, “I am the bread of life.” is worthy of our attention.
Jesus said “I am the bread of life” (V.35). He also said “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (V.51).
Jesus asked his disciples, Peter and John, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” (LK 22:8). Jesus said, taking bread in his hands at the Passover table, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (LK 22:19). He also said, taking the cup, “The cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (LK 22:20).
All these statements of Christ shown above, point out to the one central theme which is Divine Liturgy. Obeying the Lord’s command the Christian church faithfully and with utmost respect has been doing it without any break from the first century A.D. The Divine Liturgy in our terms is known as Holy Qurbana or Holy Communion.
Holy Qurbana is one of the sacred Sacraments, one of the spiritual means to eternity. It has the deepest spiritual effects on life, and offers four-fold benefits to the faithful partakers of.
(1) Those who take in Holy Qurbana, the body and blood of Christ, are entitled to be abiding in God. Jesus said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn 6:56). It is a state of life together with God, and a privilege of an intimate relationship with the Almighty.
(2) The partaking of Holy Communion is an act of grafting, as it is done with the trees to bring out a new brand of tree for more yields. A specific tree of better quality is grafted with another tree, which remains in its stead capable of producing more fruits. It may be called transplantation. In animals the process is be called “cloning.”
These terms and methods of “grafting” and “pruning” (cleaning) have been already explained in the Holy Bible even before the modern scientific inventions have come forth. It says in St. John 15:2, “He (God) cuts off every branch in me (Christ) that bears no fruits, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” St. Paul in Romans 11:17, says, “..and you (Christians), though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive, do not boast over those branches.”
Spiritually, grafting means that the weak and sinful human nature shares the power of the divine nature through the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ made available in Holy Qurbana. The objective of the spiritual grafting is abundant Christian life and to bring forth the fruits of Christian character and witnessing.
(3) By receiving Holy Communion a faithful is eligible for three-fold blessings: Salvation, Remission of sins and Everlasting life. Salvation is a free gift. Remission of sins is obtained through repentance and confession at the time of Holy Communion. St. Johns Says, “and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). It promises everlasting life.
(4) The Holy Communion is a renewal of our covenant with God. St. Paul says, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, do this whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me……you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes ” (1Cor. 11:24-26).
A covenant literally means a coming together, signifying a mutual undertaking between two parties or more, each party binding himself/herself to fulfill the obligation. Here the parties of the covenantal deal are God and men. In Holy Baptism we have individually committed to God agreeing to live under His lordship. At the time we have said, “I accept Christ and forsake Satan and his forces.” The same agreement to live under the lordship of Christ is renewed every time we receive Holy Communion.