Thursday, March 28, 2013

Whoever easts my flesh and drinks my blood. . .

From Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditations:

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives eternally,” says Christ (John 6:54). Great in every way are the benefits of our Savior who not only assumed our flesh and carried it with him to his throne of heavenly glory, but also still feeds us with his body and blood for eternal life. O salutary food of our soul! O long awaited feast! O heavenly and angelic meal! Although angels desired to look into that great mystery (1 Peter 1:12), nevertheless he did not assume the seed of angels, but of Abraham (Hebrews 2:16). The Savior is closer kin to us than to the angels, for we have learned of that love that he gave to us by his Spirit, not only by his Spirit, but also by his body and blood. He thus indeed speaks the truth about the eucharistic bread and wine, “This is my body. This is my blood” (Matthew 26:26). How can the Lord forget those whom he has redeemed115 with his own body and blood, whom he has nourished with his own body and blood? “Whoever eats the flesh and drinks the blood of Christ remains in Christ, and Christ remains in him” (John 6:56).

I therefore do not wonder exceedingly that the hairs of our head have been numbered (Matthew 10:30), that our names have been written in heaven (Luke 10:20), that we have been inscribed upon the palms of the hands of the Lord (Isaiah 49:16), or that we have been carried in his womb as by a mother (Isaiah 46:3) since we are nourished by the body and blood of Christ. The dignity of our souls is also great because they are nourished with the precious ransom of their redemption. Moreover, the dignity of our bodies is great because they are the habitation of our souls, redeemed and filled by the body of Christ, the temples of the Holy Spirit, and the domiciles116 of the entire Most Holy Trinity. It is impossible that the same ones who have been nourished with the body and blood of our  Lord—with that greatest117 of meals—would remain in the grave. We eat him but we do not change him in our body. Rather we are changed in him. We are members of Christ and are filled with breath by his Spirit. We are nourished by his body and his blood.

“This is the bread which descended from heaven and gives life to the world. If anyone will eat of it, they will not hunger for all eternity” (John 6:33).118 This is the bread of grace and mercy. All who eat of it will “taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:9), and “will receive grace upon grace from his fullness” (John 1:16). This is the bread of life that is not only living but makes alive. If anyone eats of this he will live forever (John 6:58).  This bread has descended from heaven and is not only itself heavenly but also makes those partaking of it partakers of the heavenly feast. Whoever eats of this feast with faith and in the Spirit will become heavenly because they will not die but will be resuscitated in the Last Day. They will not be revived for judgment in the Last Day because whoever eats from this bread will not come to judgment or to damnation since there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Rather, they will be revived for life and salvation (Romans 8:1). “Whoever indeed eats the flesh of the Son of Man and drinks his blood will have life in him and will live because of Christ” (John 6:54,57). His flesh is real food and his blood is real drink (John 6:55). Therefore, let us not satisfy ourselves on our own works but with the Lord’s food. Let us not become inebriated with the abundance of our own house but with that of the house of the Lord (Psalm 36:9).119

Christ is the true fountain of life.120 Whoever drinks of that water will have a fountain of water springing up within them into eternal life (John 4:14). All who thirst come to these waters; and those who have no money come, buy, and eat (Isaiah 55:1). Let all who thirst come. Come also you, my soul, thirsting and harassed by the heat of my sins. But if you are destitute, lacking the currency of merits, hasten all the more to him. Destitute,121 without your own merits, hasten all the more ardently to the merits of Christ. Hasten, therefore, and buy without money. This is the bedroom of Christ and of the soul, from which sins do not deter us and into which merits do not enter. What are our merits even able to do for us? “Why do you spend money on what is not bread and labor for what does not satisfy?” says the prophet (Isaiah 55:2). Our labors do not satisfy, nor does the currency of our merits buy divine grace. Hear then, my soul, “and eat what is good and delight in fatness” (Isaiah 55:2). These words that I speak are Spirit and life and the words of eternal life (John 6:63). “The cup we bless is a participation122 in the blood of Christ. The bread which we break is a participation in the body of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 10:16). We cling to the Lord. Therefore, we are one spirit with him. We are united123 with him not only by a communion in nature124 but also by a participation in his body and blood. For this reason, I do not say with the Jews, “How can this one give us his flesh for eating?” (John 6:52). Rather I exclaim, “How does the Lord distribute his flesh to us for eating and his blood for drinking!” I do not probe125 into his power but rather marvel at his benevolence. I do not scrutinize his majesty but rather venerate his kindness. I believe in the presence. I am not concerned with the mode of his presence.126 Although, I know it is most certainly in the closest and most intimate manner. We are members of his body, flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone (Ephesians 5:30). He lives in us and we in him.

115 Quos suo corpoer et sanguine redemit om. G.
116 Sunt add. G.
117 cibus mirabilis G.
118 This quote borrows loosely from the general passage and not from this verse alone.

119 Psalm 36:8 in English.
120 Psalm 36:9 in the English would apply here.
121 Destitute G.
122 Or, as we say, a communion in the body and blood.
123 Utimur ABCD.
124 A shared human nature.
125 Mirror CDG.
126 Or, “I do not know…”

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