March 12, 2022

Homily Before Holy Communion on the First Sunday of Great Lent (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

Before you come, listeners, to Holy Communion, let's talk about what benefit we get when we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, and with what feelings we should approach this Awesome Mystery.

What benefit do we get when we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ? We are most closely united with Jesus Christ, so that Jesus Christ then begins to abide in us, and we in Him: "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood abides in Me, and I in him" (John 6:56), says Jesus Christ. What exactly is happening in us then? It is impossible to explain and realize this, it is impossible, one can only feel it a little, and even then not completely.

What happens to you when, tormented by hunger and thirst, you take ordinary food and drink? Then you seem to begin to live a new life, you become more cheerful, healthier and ready for work. By this similarity, one can somewhat explain what happens to the soul of that person who partakes of the Body and Blood of Christ. His soul then begins to live a new, divine life; he feels some kind of unearthly joy, he is illumined by some kind of heavenly light, and is enlivened by some kind of extraordinary readiness for goodness.

By uniting with Jesus Christ, the communicant thus becomes a partaker of eternal life, so that his soul would directly soar to Jesus Christ in paradise if he had to die at that moment: "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life" (Jn. 6:54), says the Lord. That is why, listeners, those people die so calmly, so merrily, who, before death, have time to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. What should they be afraid of when they are most closely united with Jesus Christ, the source of eternal life? Thus, by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we are most intimately united with Jesus Christ and become partakers of eternal life.

However, the Body and Blood of Christ produce these grace-filled actions only in the soul of the one worthy of communion, and whoever eats and drinks unworthily does not receive remission of his former sins, on the contrary, becomes even worse, even more sinful, even further away from Jesus Christ, he eats and drinks self-judgment (1 Corinthians 11:29). Similarly, the most wholesome food and the most wholesome drink are often disastrous for the sick.

So, listeners, are you worthy to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ? For six days you fasted, for six days you went to the church of God, for six days you lamented over your sins, you were at the confession of your confessor, but even after all this, are your souls so pure that Jesus Christ, the Most Holy of Holies, could enter and dwell in them? Oh, no, even eternity seems to be not enough for us to adequately prepare ourselves for Holy Communion, many of us even now, in these sacred moments, do not leave vicious thoughts and desires. What are we sinners to do after this? How to proceed to Holy Communion? With the consciousness, with the heartfelt awareness of one's unworthiness. The more one recognizes himself as unworthy of Holy Communion, the more he is worthy of it.

Yes, listeners, do not imitate those false Christians who, as if realizing themselves unworthy of Holy Communion and as if not wanting to come with the same sins, never come, and do not take communion. Believe me, they only say that they are unworthy, but in fact they don’t feel that way, and they say it only because they don’t want to prepare for Holy Communion. They do not want to fast for six days, they do not want to part with their vicious habits for six days; in this way they speak to cover up their laziness, carelessness. A patient who is in great pain, will he hesitate to take the medicine just because it may not give him relief for a long time? Of course not. It is better to feel relief for one minute than to suffer incessantly. Similarly, a Christian who recognizes himself as a sinner, unworthy of Holy Communion, who is really afraid that after Communion he will not fall into his former sins, will never leave Communion. For him, the day is dear, the road and the minute in which he will stay without sins with Christ.

So, listeners, approach Holy Communion, only approach with fear and faith. Let no doubts confuse you; to be with Jesus Christ even one day is valuable; to have the Savior in the soul one minute is important. Oh, that He would be with us all the days of our life and forever and ever! Amen.