聖禮儀 (四)：聖餐共融 講道：李亮神 英文講稿：貝克教授 翻譯：張奉書
如同過去二週，今日我們仍繼續教導聖餐( the Holy Communion )。就像前幾次我們說過的，在聖禮儀時，聖靈降臨使我們合而為一。如同今天福音書經文，耶穌基督受難前的禱告又稱為大祭司禱文，耶穌求父使門徒合而為一。合而為一不是意識形態上的合一，或是以人為的方式合一，我們又如何能合而為一呢？所以神子道成肉身，在祂裡面彼此合一，成為祂的身體。祂的聖體和寶血為了你我而捨，以這樣的方式使我們真正地合而為一。
就像前二週講道中所說的，聖禮儀是我們將世界萬物獻給神，而神悅納我們所獻上的，並將祂的愛子的聖體與寶血賜給我們做為禮物。這是為何聖禮儀在祝聖餅酒(Consecration)之後，我們同聲說:「我們在天上的父」，因為主禱文中說:「賜給我們日用的飲食」，但中英文版本的翻譯都不正確，希臘字epiousion= epi+ousion (epi=目的,為了) (ousion=ousia=essence本質=existence存在) . 因此 epiousion意思是「為了我們的存在」。它被誤譯成「賜給我們每日的麵包」。實際上，epiousion意思是「我們存在」所需要的「本質」。賜給我們存在所需要的麵包。這個麵包不是我們每天平常吃的麵包，而是基督的聖體。中文誤譯成我們日用的飲食，指的只是一般的食物。
約八世紀或十世紀的聖尼古拉(Saint Nicholas Cabasilas)寫了一本很有名的、有關聖禮儀的一本書，他說到亡者也會吃這生命的食糧，天使也是如此。生命的食糧就是萬物的核心。我告訴過你們參與聖禮儀可不是件輕鬆寫意的事。這有點像是去上門課，你必須好好準備，你在聖禮儀中也有許多需要注意的事情。應當為你們心中的生者與亡者的親友禱告。
今日福音書經節 ：約翰福音 17:1-13
2015.05.24 Sunday of the Fathers of the First Council
Liturgy IV : Holy Communion
Sermon: Fr. Jonah
Transcript: Prof. Baker
Today, as we have done for the past two weeks, we will continue to teach about the Holy Communion. As we said the previous times, in the Liturgy the Holy Spirit comes and makes us one, as we saw in today’s Gospel, the last prayer of Jesus Christ, the prayer of the high priest, to be one. But to be one, not in ideology or as individual human beings, how can we be one? This why the Son of God became human: so that in His body to be united, to be united to his Body, His flesh and his blood could be for me and you, in this way to make us bodily and really one.
So, as we said in the two previous sermons, the point of the Liturgy is that we offer all of the world to God and God accepts it, and he returns the gift as the Body and Blood of His Son. So this is why in the Liturgy, after the Consecration, we together say, “Our Father who art in Heaven,” And why? Because in this prayer it says, “Give us the…” well in English and Chinese the translation is not correct. The Greek word, epiousion= epi+ousion (epi= purpose, for) (ousion=ousia=essence=existence) . so “epiousion= for our existence”. It is translated as “Give us our daily bread.” Actually, epouision means “essence,” “for our existence.” The bread of the existence. Because this bread is not only the bread that we have every day, the food we eat – which is why the Chinese translation has liang, which means food generally.
In Greek there are many words for food, there is trophe, which is also used in the Bible. And I am talking about Greek not because I am Greek, but because it is the original language of the Bible, so if Jesus had meant to talk about food, He could have used another word that refers to our everyday food. But we can see her that most of the interpreters and the Fathers of the Church say that he says arton, which means bread. And don’t forget that in the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life,” which is continuously coming from Heaven to us.
And you can see that the verb tense is very important in the Bible because before He says “I am the bread of life,” He says, “I came,” using the past tense. But now he says that he is continuously coming as the Bread of Life. So here, before the Holy Communion, you can see that the Bible and the Christian life are not separated; they are together. This is why we say this prayer before the Holy Communion: because we are going to take the bread of life, the food of life.
And from this point of view, Orthodoxy is the most materialistic religion because others say, “God is in Heave,” or something like that. But we don’t speak of a God in Heaven, but of a God that we take so close, so deeply that no human being could be so close to us. Even when two people have sex, it is not such a deep union. Probably only a baby is this close when he is in his mother’s womb as another presence inside a human being.
It is important that you must know what the priest is doing. He takes the Body of Jesus Christ and he breaks it. Although I use the English word “break,” this is actually not an accurate translation. In the original it means that I am taking the members of my body, but not actually breaking them. This is why I turn and you see how I am breaking the bread. I do not do as I have seen many times in Protestant churches here they laugh and go “bam” and hit the bread. This is really ridiculous. This is why the prayer of the Church says, “He who is broken but not divided,” “Who is eaten but never finished.”
And to make this clear I will give you some small examples. Our church is so small (and with so many problems), but there are many times in big churches there are thousands of people who come to receive the Holy Communion and the bread is never finished; it is enough for everyone to receive it. It is a miracle of God. About this miracle I will speak to you another time.
And then the priest also puts the bread inside the wine. In the first Church the people were coming first to take the bread in their hands and eat it, and then they would come and each person would take a little bit of wine from the cup. But later in the Fourth Century after Christianity was free and there were so many people since it was the religion of the Byzantine Empire.Then people didn’t pay attention; just imagine. You see how the kids are here, so I must be very careful that none of the bread or wine falls down.
For all these reasons John Chrysostom made the practical decision that instead of all the people to come and the Blood of Jesus Christ could fall down, he said that we should put the Body of Jesus Christ inside the wine and we should use a small spoon the give the Liturgy, and we have done it this way since that time to give to everyone. In the West they did not do this, but gradually for the fear of something dropping they did not give the Blood of Jesus Christ to the people in order to be safer. And instead of using real bread they started to use the Irish type of bread that had soda inside. Gradually the Western Church came to use the unleavened bread that they use today. But if you see history, you can see that the first Church was using bread like this and you can find on the internet how to make the bread and there are stamps from Germany from the Fifth Century.
But these are historical things that we can talk about another time. In the Liturgy we have now come to the time that we receive the Holy Communion. [If someone were not to partake of this]. it would be as if we invited you for dinner but you did not eat anything. But we must understand first, what is this that I am receiving in the Holy Communion. I ask people here and some of them don’t know this. We take the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ; we take Jesus Christ Himself inside ourselves.
As you should understand, the Orthodox Church is not an ideology, not like some political or economic or athletic ideology; none of those. It is exactly to be a member of the Body of Christ. In philosophy, it is called existential, though we are not doing philosophy here. It is to become one with Jesus Christ, and this is the celebration of Life. This is the Paradise. We don’t live for some future paradise; paradise starts right here. And this is the real life because Jesus Christ said that “He who believes in Me, and he who has the food of life will never feel death. “ You may say, “But people can die,” and we had a memorial service today. We don’t use the work die, we use the word sleep. He did not die, our brother for whom we did the memorial service today. He is alive in the loving memory of God and because of the loving memory of God.
Saint Nicholas of Cabasilas who lived about the Eighth or Tenth Century wrote a very famous book about the Liturgy, which says that says that yes, why not the dead people they will eat also the food of life, and the angels also. The food of life, this is the center of everything. I told you that coming to the Liturgy is a difficult thing. It is a little like going to a class, where you have to be prepared, and you do a lot of things in the Liturgy. And I told you that you should pray for your living and dead people.
But you must be hungry; that is the most important thing. You must be hungry for Jesus Christ, because this is the real life. And I have said many times that if I had not this poor bread and wine in the chalice, but if instead I had diamonds inside the chalice and I gave a big diamond to everybody, so you know what would have happened today? The police would have to come because thousands of people would like up outside the building from the Xiaobian Subway stop to here in order to receive one of them because it would be for free, and a diamond.
But this is how we should be hungry for Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, we are not. And everybody must examine his own consciousness to ask why, if the church were now giving out big diamonds that could make you a millionaire without needing to work for the rest of your life [would you be anxious to receive one]?. And everybody should examine themselves to see if they are hungry for Jesus Christ. If somebody has a sin or has some misunderstanding, as the Church understands sin, of course we can have Confession, and this is why we have Confession, to remove this sin.
And I must say something else to you. We don’t care to be forgiven. To think that “I have sins and I care to be forgiven.” This is pride and it is not good. If I want to be forgiven, then I should want to be united since that would remove the things that separate me from Jesus Christ. Why do I want to be forgiven? So that I can take Jesus Christ inside me. It is not to restore my selfishness, like I used to be a good Christian but then I did something bad and then I fell, so now I confess and then I become OK again; no problem. This is very wrong, psychologically and from the Christian point of view. We confess, as I say again, to remove all the things that separate us from Jesus Christ. This is why we do the Liturgy: to eat.
If there is an invitation to a lunch, but if you come to the lunch and you do not eat, what is that? This is why if you see in the canons of the Church, especially the very early ones, they say that if there is a priest who comes but does not participate in the Holy Communion, or even someone who is not a priest, someone like you who does not receive the Holy Communion, then the bishop must call him and examine him to see why he did not receive the Holy Communion. And if he has a good reason, like he is very sick, then he can confess to the bishop. But if not, then the canon of the Church says that if he is a priest then he must be removed from the priesthood, which is like being excommunicated. You may ask me, “Who is doing this today?” And really the Church has an economy, and it would not automatically excommunicate somebody. Even me: if I steal something, I cannot go to the police and ask them to open the jail for me to go in. I must pass through the court and then go to prison.
But the Church applies the economy, which is a Greek word that means some kind of pastoral care for the people, who don’t know about the Holy Communion. Some of them don’t understand the Holy Communion, and others use the Holy Communion to blackmail the Church or the priest, or others for their own reasons, reasons not of the Church, reasons not based on the theology of the Church, but to exercise their thirst for pride and power. We will say many things about this another time and we will discuss the Holy Communion more in another sermon.
I will say to you something practical, especially for Chinese people, who can ask, “Why is it that I received the Holy Communion from the same spoon as all the other people?” If I have a disease and some germs, than how can other people take germs from the same spoon?” First, I will say to you that the Church always has an economy for the people who don’t understand. For example, many Orthodox priests in the United States and other places, and I will do it for some people, I can just put the spoon over the mouth and pour it in so the spoon does not touch their lips. I say this, as an economy for the people whose faith is just at the beginning, so as not to be surprised. But I will say to you, by the experience of two thousand years, that when you receive Jesus Christ, that is not only Jesus Christ, it is a medicine, the real mecine. There are so many miracles, so many people who become well after receiving the Holy Communion, and nobody becomes sick after receiving the Holy Communion, never! Many doctors who are athiests are very surprised when they see a priest going to a hospital where there are so very grave diseases like tuberculosis and many other things, and then they see the priest finishing the remains of the communion wine and bread, but they never get sick. I have that experience myself. And not only this, but if somebody accidently spits or coughs out the Communion, the priest will lick it up. I have done this also. Before I came here, when I was a priest in Greece going to different places with the presanctified Liturgy, I found that the bread had been half-eaten by a mouse and there were mouse droppings all over the small box. The previous priest had obviously forgotten about this box, and I ate it all. What happened? Nothing. But if you were to eat ordinary food like that, you can imagine what would happen to you.
So we must understand that when we see the Bible as Christians, it is not just historical memories from two thousand years ago, and Jesus was so good and He was resurrected, no. no, no. This is only a romantic faith, a fake faith not the real faith. If we believe that Christianity is just about Jesus two thousand years ago, that is romantic and fake. When we receive the Holy Communion, this is the Resurrection, and we say, “Having beheld the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, this time we feel the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, receiving the Holy Communion.
About receiving the Holy Communion and becoming one with the others, we will talk next time. May the Holy Trinity Protect all of us.
John 17:1-13 At that time, Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do; and now, Father, you glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made. I have manifested your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world; yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you; for I have given them the words which you gave me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you did send me. I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are mine; all mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”