聖禮儀 (五) 領受基督聖體聖血
講道 ：李亮神父, 英文紀錄：貝克教授翻譯：張奉書
2015.06.07 Sunday of All Saints
Liturgy V : Receiving the Body of Jesus Christ
Sermon: Fr. Jonah
Transcript: Prof. Baker
This Sunday we celebrate all the saints and what are the fruits of the Holy Spirit, but I will say a few things about the Holy Communion, continuing what I have been talking about for the past three weeks since this is the great beauty [duty?] of the Church.
First of all, I want to speak to you about some practical things regarding the Holy Communion. When you come to receive the Holy Communion, it is not enough to just come. First of all it is our attitude, and our attitude is to be full of love and to be happy because this is the greatest moment in our lives. Many priests and theologians talk about the Last Judgement and how you will apologize in front of God and things like that. But much more important than that moment is the time we receive Jesus Christ Himself inside us. So this is the Last Judgment for us. This is the most important moment of our lives, and it does not happen only once because we don’t come to the Holy Liturgy and receive the Holy Communion only one time.
So we must not see the Christian faith in a mythical, philosophical or some other way; the Christian faith is this: everything is in this moment that I receive Jesus Christ inside myself. Unfortunately, many people want to see some sort of order, and they say the sequence with which they go through the Liturgy is what matters. But that is not what is important. What is important is that this is the Last Judgement; this is everything.
So I will say to you that if we come with this proper attitude – and we want to understand what we are doing – then there are some small details that you must know. In the first Church, from the very beginning, at least after the Fourth Century, we give people both the bread and the wine – the body and blood of Jesus Christ. But because it is only a small piece of bread and can easily fall down, so that is why the priest is holding this [holds up the red cloth that is held under the mouth of a Communicant]. If something falls from the mouth of the person receiving the Communion, it will fall on the cloth, not on the floor. If that happens, if the priest sees something on the cloth, or somebody else sees it they should tell the priest, and he will eat it himself because it is not just a bread crumb. Then, when people have received the Communion, they should wipe their mouths. Since something wet could remain on their lips, they should wipe them with the cloth.
Somebody told me that this is a cultural thing. It is not a cultural thing; it is the care of the most valuable thing on the heavens and the earth. And permit me to say – and I say to myself, “God understands I have sins, and everybody has, and this is human weakness.” But you should be careful and respect the body of Jesus Christ and wipe your lips. He could say to you, “You may have sinned because of your weakness, but could you not have taken care of my Body; that is so simple.”
And when you come to receive the Holy Communion, do not put the cloth high, in front of your mouth because how could I give you the Communion? You must have some common sense.
Some people hold up their babies and the babies kick. It is not on purpose, but it is the babies’ nature and they can kick the Chalice. And if the Chalice falls down with the Holy Communion, you must understand that that is a big sin, not only for the priest, but for the all the community. And what would the poor priest dare to say to the parents? He is afraid of them because he knows their attitude against him. And this is why I hold the Chalice so strongly [holding his hand in a fist as if around the stem of the Chalice], and when I put it down I have to stretch out my fingers – because many times a baby can kick the Chalice.
Now, you can see that when we have received the Holy Communion, we take another piece of bread. It is not to receive another blessing; there is no higher blessing than the Holy Communion in the Heavens or on the Earth – nothing higher than this. But you take this bread to put something in your mouth to be sure everything goes down and is not accidently spewed out if you sneeze when your mouth is wet with the Holy Communion. And it is also in memory of the ancient agape [Love Feast], where the early Christians were eating together after they did the Liturgy, as we do here.
Normally, we would also give a little bit of ordinary wine mixed with water to further help clean your mouths, but I don’t do this on Sundays because there are many people here and some could misunderstand to be that we were drinking in church. So, to avoid a scandal I don’t do it now. I hope that in the future, when the attitude of the people becomes better, we could do it. But even now I do this when I do Liturgy on other days of the week.
Now, if you see that for any reason, some of the Holy Communion falls on the floor, what should you do? You must understand that the responsibility for the Holy Communion is not just for the priest. I have responsibility for the altar, and I cannot see what everybody does. So you have now the responsibility to tell that person to stop, to call the priest, and not allow the person to go and step on the Holy Communion. Then I will go and lick up the piece because it is Jesus Christ’s Body, not simple waste. I would not take my hand after touching the Communion and go wash it; it has touched the Blood of Jesus Christ.
Later I will put some alcohol on the place where something fell and then light it to burn – some people here may remember that I have done this – and so everything will be gone and there is no chance left that people could step on the Body of Jesus Christ.
You must understand that we have a choice. We can try to follow ordinary politeness and not do anything then, and after all the people have passed over the body of Jesus Christ, only then say something to the priest. It would be better to beat the priest. But if the priest dares to cry out, “Waah, what happened?” then it is as if the priest would be executed by his people. No! Keep you politeness for your relationships; and for God, do what God wants.
So all the day, after we go home after taking the Holy Communion, we must remember who we carry. We carry Jesus Christ, Right? This is the greatest honor in the Heavens and on the Earth. And we must honor Jesus Christ, at least as we can. I cannot ask you to do things that I cannot do myself, but at least to leave from the church, happy that we have the Kingdom of Heaven, not just Jesus. There can be no bigger or greater happiness, but the Kingdom of Heaven, inside us.
Some people know and they leave with the prayers after the Holy Communion thanking God, but this is not a big problem. But you must remember that you never receive the Holy Communion only for yourself, but it is also for the people that you love. This is easy to explain, as if you were wearing a very strong perfume and you sat next to me, then when I got up the perfume would be on my clothes and when I went home, someone might think i had put on perfume. Or if you go somewhere that people are smoking and the smell gets on your clothes, then when you go home people may think you were smoking. The Holy Communion is like that: through us the Grace of God goes out to others.
It is very important that we receive the Holy Communion and do the Liturgy together as a group. It is not an individualistic thing, where one person does not care what others do. It is done in the gathering of the Body of Jesus Christ, the Members of Jesus Christ, to become one. Now, there are some exceptions of course, when somebody is in the hospital or I go far away. But even then, the person should know that it is in the context of the Body of Jesus Christ that he receives the Holy Community.
I will stop here and I want you think, it as if this is the last moment of your life, the last great moment when we receive the Holy Communion. Next Sunday I will say how I am united with the others. May the Holy Trinity protect all of us.