Soul food - and for the body
"This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me... This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 1 Corinthians 11. 24-5
Being a fifth Sunday in the month, we shall be celebrating Communion at our church gathering today: English in the morning, Gaelic in the afternoon. Believers will find nourishment for their souls in the timeless memorial of Jesus' death for our sins, in the special awareness of his presence with us now and in the anticipation of our fuller Communion with him and with all the saints in the eternal Kingdom. But there will be more...
Greek philosophy is blamed for the dualistic attitude which would draw a wedge between the spiritual and material realms and between God and creation, while the Hebrew outlook understands life as integrated, both in itself and with its Creator. While not denying the distinct characteristics of heaven and earth, of material and spiritual existence, the Hebrew mind affirms the presence of God throughout. It is in this sense that we understand the resurrection of Jesus as both a spiritual and a physical reality: reclothed in a spiritual body which retained the abilities of his material body, such as touching and being touched.
Jesus instituted Holy Communion in the context of a celebratory meal, almost certainly Passover, the annual feast in which Jews celebrate their (very physically real) liberation from slavery in Egypt. Transfiguring it into a celebration of liberation from sin for the whole world, does not divorce the occasion from its roots. Claiming so would amount to denying the cultural context in which Jesus accomplished what he did and which we must assume was deliberate and significant. Instead, embracing both the transfigured sacrament and the occasion from which it sprang confirms God's ability and intention to liberate and nourish us in body and in soul.
No wonder it is referred to as The Eucharist (literally "Thanksgiving")!