April 29, 2021

The Immortal Table

By Metropolitan Kallinikos Karousos of Piraeus

"Come, O faithful, let us enjoy the Master's hospitality and immortal table, in the upper room, that is, in elevated minds."

The Church has elevated us to the sacred atmosphere of the Secret Supper tonight. That night the Lord delivered to His disciples the All-Holy Mystery of the Divine Eucharist. And He made the greatest gift to His faithful by giving them for spiritual food His Body and His Blood.

This great gift, inconceivable to the human mind, invites us to pay special care and enjoy it, as it should be, according to the holy hymn writer.

Let us follow, my brethren, his thoughts.

"Come, O faithful, let us enjoy the Master's hospitality and immortal table..."

We have two concepts here, worthy of great attention. He calls Holy Communion the "Master's hospitality" and an "immortal table".

Raise your minds to these concepts. This Master Christ, the Lord of all, the incarnate God, provides us with a unique hospitality. It has no perishable food. It does not present cheap dishes. It provides us with incomparable, insurmountable, unique food. It is His Body, which is sacrificed on the Cross, and His Blood, which was shed to wash away the dirt of our souls. With this holy and immaculate Body and Blood, He hosts us in every Divine Liturgy. The beginning took place on the night of Great Thursday in the upper room of Jerusalem. And it continues and will continue until the end of the age. The table provided by the Lord is the antidote to death. "Whosoever shall eat of it will not die". It is the "manna of God, who came down from heaven and gave life to the world". "Those who eat this bread will live unto the ages," declared the Lord Himself, when He spoke in Capernaum about the hospitality He was preparing for His faithful.

Therefore, the Lord has at our disposal an immortal table. His All-Holy Body and His All-Pure Blood are provided to us in every Divine Liturgy to sanctify our souls, to be united with the Lord, and to secure eternal life and blessedness.

But how should we enjoy the immortal table and this hospitality of the Master?

"In elevated minds", the inspired hymn writer tells us. That is, with a spiritually elevated mental world.

We cannot sit at the Lord's table without a bond and intimacy with the Lord. In order to rejoice and be glad at a table, where you have been invited, you must connect with a bond of love with the host that invited you. Otherwise you will feel like a stranger.

In a similar way we can enjoy the immortal table of the Lord, under the inviolable condition that we have a close relationship and friendship and unity with the Lord. This is the meaning of "in elevated minds". Elevation of the heart and mind to the Lord.

But it also means developing interest in spiritual matters within us. It means detachment of the heart from the earthly, the material and the ephemeral. It means an effort of spiritual ascension, raising the mind to heaven and tasting of heaven.

The Church reminds us of the same thing through the liturgizing priest in every Divine Liturgy. "Let us lift up our hearts". And the tragic thing is that we answer through the psalm: "We lift them up unto the Lord," while we have our heart elsewhere and we lie.

"In elevated minds". It also means full knowledge and awareness of the supernatural Mystery. Full understanding of the Lord's consent to give us His Body and Blood for food for our souls. It means conscious participation in the Mystery and unwavering faith and reverence.

But even "in elevated minds" means purification of the soul from transgressions, from the guilt of sin, through the Mystery of Holy Confession. Because we cannot have our mental world elevated to our Christ while our souls are burdened by our sins.

We do not go to a formal dinner in old clothes. We wear our good clothes. At this divine supper of the Lord it is not conceivable to partake with the filth of the garment of our soul. We need a "wedding garment", otherwise we will be thrown out. We will lose the immortal fruits of the immortal table.

My brethren,

Have you seriously considered what a great honor and what an incalculable gift is the Lord's offer to invite us to His table? What have we done so far? Do we enjoy the immortal table "in elevated minds"? Or do we come unprepared and without intense desire?

Worst of all, do we despise this hospitality of the Master?

O! then we will be unaccounted for. But from today let us change. No more indifference, no contempt for the Great Mystery. Participation. And in fact participation, as we briefly exposed it to your love. And let the verse of the inspired hymn writer not leave our thoughts:

"Come, O faithful, let us enjoy the Master's hospitality and immortal table, in the upper room, that is, in elevated minds."

Source: From the book Η Εβδομάδα των Παθών, Δ΄ έκδ., Αθήνα 1983. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.