In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
After a week which we spend in the twilight of the world, where the powers of good and the powers of evil are in contest, when we are called to be the light of the world, the salt that prevents its corruption, a living message that God has come, that victory over evil is won, and all hopes are possible, indeed all things are in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ who is our strength — after a whole week in this twilight we come to church, and it is a moment when two things should happen.
It is a moment when we re-dedicate ourselves to God, because we bring at the same time in the Holy Liturgy two kinds of gifts. On the one hand, the offering of our souls and bodies, the gift of ourselves which should be unreserved, which we give according to our strength, but a strength that should grow day after day by the exercise of loyalty and faithfulness to God. And we also bring to God a sacrifice, an offering so holy and so perfect, the life and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Resurrection and His Ascension into Heaven, and the vision of what we are called to be — all of us together with all things created. Because it is not only mankind whom God has assumed in Christ through the Incarnation — it is all things visible and invisible; the invisible through His Divinity in the human soul, and the visible by His Incarnation, by God taking flesh and becoming mysteriously and wonderfully akin to all that is material, visible, tangible. All creation, not only saints and sinners, but all things created can look at Christ’s Body and rejoice because in Him they can see themselves in glory.
When we come to God we expect a gift of grace, the power of life to be poured into us so that we should become truly new creatures; not only creatures of flesh and blood, not only created beings standing face to face with their Creator but also creatures, pervaded by the power and the presence, the true communion with God which is given to us in the Sacraments.
It is only to the extent to which we bring ourselves as an offering (let it be earthen vessels open to receive things Holy) that we can receive these Holy things. In the prayer that precedes the consecration of the Holy Gifts the priest says: «Renew us who pray to Thee, and make this bread the Body of Christ, and this cup — the Blood of Christ». It is only to the extent to which we give ourselves to God to be filled, to the extent which we empty ourselves of all things contrary to Him, in intention, at least in the struggle which should be ours, that we can receive the gift.
But this gift is not given to us alone; it is not given to us that we should hug it, possess it, delight in it: it is given to us in the way in which a lamp is lit, in which a fire is lighted, in which the truth is given. Thanks be to God — we are not a body of people, prisoners of our buildings and our small frail Christian society! We are indeed sent into the world to be God’s own witnesses, through Communion to the Body and Blood of Christ to be His incarnate presence. When we receive Communion we expect all things from God, but He also expects all things from us.
Let us ponder on this. Let us receive with an open heart and an open mind, with all our being, what God gives us, not in order to possess it but in order to give it, to give it as generously as God gives Himself: life and death, our joy and our sorrow, our broken-heartedness and our hopes — all to be given in God’s Name to anyone who needs it. Then we shall have fulfilled the Apostle’s call: «Carry one another’s burdens, and so you shall have fulfilled the law of Christ». Amen.