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April 13, 2022

Homilies on the Divine Liturgy - Holy Communion (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

  Homilies on the Divine Liturgy
Holy Communiont

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 

All the Mysteries of the Church, my beloved brethren, are closely connected with the Divine Eucharist. We are baptized and chrismated with the Holy Myrrh so that as members of the Church we can take part in this Secret Supper and receive Christ in us. The Mystery of the Priesthood is made so that there may be Bishops who will perform the Divine Liturgy and who will ordain Presbyters to perform the Divine Eucharist on their behalf. The Mysteries of Confession and Anointing are made to prepare us to truly participate in the Divine Eucharist, but also the Mystery of Marriage is made so that the couple can participate in the Divine Eucharist, to feel united not only on a biological level, but as unity with Christ.

We can also then say that the Divine Eucharist is also performed in order to have the opportunity to commune of the Body and Blood of Christ. Of course, if someone has visited their spiritual father and he does not allow them to temporarily commune, in order to prepare them for a good participation in Holy Communion, then the participation in the Divine Eucharist can help them with prayer.

The culmination of the Divine Liturgy, but also of all ecclesial life, is when man is found worthy to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a great blessing when man who is made from dust is found worthy to taste the wood of life which is Christ. Adam in Paradise had communion with God, but he had not reached the point of communion with the Body of Christ, since the Second Person of the Holy Trinity had not incarnated. But we have the opportunity, with the incarnation of Christ, the sacrifice of Golgotha and His Resurrection, to partake of this blessed Body. Through this food all our energies, actions, but also all the events in our life take on a different meaning, acquire a different purpose.

When we commune we receive within ourselves the true Body of Christ in the outward form of bread and wine. That is, as our Holy Fathers explain, with the energy of the Holy Spirit, bread and wine are truly transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. But God has arranged things so that the sense and taste of bread and wine remain just because we would not feel good eating the flesh and blood of Christ. However, there were Saints who were found worthy to see the real Body on the diskos and to see the real Blood of Christ. There were also saints who saw on the Holy Table, at the time of the transformation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, a substantial light. And when they asked what this Light was, they heard a voice saying that it was the Holy Spirit.

Other senses are required in order to be able to penetrate into the "spirit" of the Divine Liturgy. It is not a matter of a logical understanding of what is said and done, but of an existential rebirth. It may seem paradoxical, but it is true that sometimes what is done in the Divine Liturgy, a small child may participate in more powerfully, who with their purity see angels, rather than the scientist, who has book knowledge and can explain and understands the words of the Divine Liturgy. Participation in the Divine Liturgy is an existential participation and not just a matter of rational understanding.

With Holy Communion we become one body and one blood with Jesus Christ. The whole body, if we have spiritual senses and live with repentance and ecclesiastical life, becomes the Body of Christ. Saint Symeon the New Theologian says that he moved his foot and his foot felt as the foot of Christ, he moved his hand and his hand felt as the hand of Christ. After Holy Communion everything must be changed, transformed, sanctified.

The saints, through the centuries, after this divine food, of the Body and Blood of Christ, overcame many temptations, faced persecutors, overcame death, since the bread of life is the medicine of immortality, and faced difficult situations, such as the terrible pains of an illness. With Holy Communion they left this life and entered another way of being, without fear. Holy Communion is the medicine of immortality and every time we commune we receive a feeling of immortality, until we are healed and become immortal by grace, just as for example we take, from time to time, antibiotics to be healed and to gain health.

Because today's sermon is the last of this series let us pray our lives will be a Divine Eucharist, a Divine Liturgy and a Divine Communion and when the time comes to be released from this life, to say: "Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers Lord Jesus Christ our God have mercy and save us. Amen."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.