At the Table of Our Priest, Prophet and King, the Fulfillment of All and in All. By Fr. Shnork Souin

Hebrews 9:11-15 11But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! 15For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
Don’t you know that with the Birth of Christ and in the completion and consummation of his redemptive work, by his suffering, death and resurrection, we live in the age that he has inaugurated–the prophetic and yet sacramentally veiled “last days”!
As Christians and inheritors of the apostolic truths granted and revealed by the very life, and from the very Hand of Christ our God himself, we have just celebrated and are now living in the glorious days of the season of the Holy Cross. We are reminded in this season especially with the smell of the Basil still lingering in the sanctuaries of our churches that our Lord Jesus, the king of heaven and earth, has come and completed his earthly work by having “become man truly and without illusion and having become incarnate in unity without confusion from the Mother-of-God and holy Virgin Mary”, becoming furthermore both “debtor and debt, immolation and anointed, lamb and bread from heaven, high-priest and sacrifice,” who in fulfillment of all prophecy came “willingly to the world-saving Cross, which was the occasion of our redemption.” (see the Anamnesis of the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church.)
This remembrance is most perfectly and substantially illuminated and experienced by Christians in the reception of our Lord’s supper, in Holy Communion, in which only can we have personal union with him not only in spirit but in his truly present holy and precious Body, and Blood!
Many have and do say, I can pray at home as if being Christian is a personal spiritual exercise. Nothing can be further from the Truth, nay further form Christ himself! Jesus came so that we might believe in him and be united in him, comprising by the Holy Spirit the Body of Christ! Christianity is a religion of collectivity and unity in the One Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church.
In Matthew 28 just before his ascension to the right hand of his Father, he uttered his “Great Commission”, 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Notice that our Lord says, “making disciples of all nations”. One cannot be a disciple without the action of being disciplined in not only following the Lord but doing that which the Lord commands. As a disciple, therefore we must take heed unto his invitation, remain at his side, worship him among his believers and to receive what he gives us, a fellowship at the holy and eternal table of Communion, that is the reception of Holy Communion.
Only through the worthy and frequent reception of his Body and Blood can we be sure of our gracious inclusion in his Body. Worthiness is not of our own doing but by his cleansing activity pronounced in absolution upon the confession of our contrite heart’s outpouring. In Communion therefore, we who are unworthy, become worthy in the blood of Christ with which we are sprinkled, receiving the forgiveness of our sins. We are made holy because e he is holy, he lives in us and we live in him as St. Nerses of Lambron (Lambronatsi) exclaimed, “For our sake you became earthly that we may become heavenly. For our sake you became bread that we, by partaking of you, may be sanctified.”
A very recent study, The Pew study, issued Aug. 5, “showed that 69 percent of all self-identified Catholics said they believed the bread and wine used at Mass are not Jesus, but instead “symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” The other 31 percent believed in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist…” This is and ought to be frightening and perhaps even more so for all Orthodox Christians including Armenians. Notice that “belief in God” does not equate with a belief or subscription to the most basic and essential tenet of all Christian teaching, that Holy Communion is the real and very present Body and Blood of Christ.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it should be as extremely disconcerting to you as it is to me that these statistic exist in spite of the magnificent and incontrovertible body of overwhelming biblical evidence, confessional and universal writings of the early church, our holy fathers, the great Councils and the historical experience and testimony of our diverse liturgical expressions which resound universally and in unison among ALL churches of the apostolic tradition.
Of course, I can never articulate just how joyful it makes me when I share in the most precious celebration of our Lord’s life-giving supper, receiving “the holy things with holy people” in the Body of Christ. Yet, so many have fallen away and find themselves isolated and cut off from the common union with Christ in his Church. My prayer and my call is for a greater stirring of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our faithful and especially in my heart that we might grow in our fervor and our duty to discipleship in the Body of Christ.

Published by

Fr. Shnork Souin

Priest of the Armenian Orthodox Church

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