HOLY COMMUNION FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS
By: The Right Reverend Father Michael D. Jordan
From the Gospel According to St. John Chapter 6:48-71 "I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whosoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eats of this bread shall live forever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Does this offend you? What and if you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will you also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spoke of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve."
The Eastern Orthodox Catholic And Apostolic Church has always believed from the very day that Jesus Christ instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion on the first Holy Thursday, that the gifts of the Bread and Wine are changed by the Holy Spirit into the Spiritual Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Whosoever eats of this does so for the remission of sins and unto life eternal through Jesus Christ. The words of the Scripture quoted above show, without a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus Christ expects us to believe that Holy Communion is His Body and Blood. The Holy Body and Blood of Christ is not just symbolic, but contains the Spiritual Essence of God the Son, and has the power to forgive sins for communicants, just as His Body and Blood forgave sins on the Cross. Every time a Christian receives the Holy Communion, Christ is Resurrected in their soul, and the soul receives the essence of God, and the thorns of transgression in the penitent Christian's heart are purged by the presence of God.
The Disciples did not get this message at first, because they told Jesus Christ that it was a hard saying, and they could not understand it. He did not expound it as a parable, but simply asked them if it offended them. Many of those who followed them were offended and did not follow Him from that point on. To truly receive this teaching you must receive it in Spirit and Truth. Those who departed were trying to receive it literally therefore they were offended. He explained it as words of Spirit and Life. He knew that at the Last Supper, they would come to understand what He meant.
The Sacrament of Holy Communion is never to be taken lightly, St. Paul tells the Corinthians in First Corinthians Chapter 11:23-29 "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread. And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do you, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death until he returns. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."
According to the Scripture cited above, if a person receives Holy Communion unworthily, they do so unto damnation. How can something that is only symbolic, have the power to condemn a person? Is not Judgment rendered exclusively into the Almighty Hands of Jesus Christ? Then it is Jesus Christ that is our Judge, and therefore, through reception of the Holy Communion, in the proper frame of mind, our sins are washed clean, and we are judged worthy in the eyes of Jesus Christ, Whose Spiritual Body and Blood are contained in the Holy Communion.
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