Chalice

Receive What You Are

Another shot of St Augustine taken from a sermon on the eucharist, read at Office of Readings for the feast of Corpus Christi.

“If you want to know what the body of Christ is, you must listen to what the apostle Paul tells the faithful: ‘Now you are the body of Christ, and individually you are members of it’. If that is so, it is the sacrament of yourselves that is placed on the Lord’s table, and it is the sacrament of yourselves that you are receiving. You reply ‘Amen’ to what you are, and thereby agree that such you are. You heard the words ‘The body of Christ’ and you reply ‘Amen’. Be, then, a member of Christ’s body, so that your ‘Amen’ may accord with the truth.

Yes, but why all this in bread? Here let us not advance any ideas of our own, but listen again to what the Apostle says when speaking of this sacrament: ‘Because there is one loaf, we, though we are many, form one body’. Let your mind assimilate that statement and be glad, for there you will find unity, truth, devotion and love. Bear in mind that bread is not made of a single grain, but of many. Be, then, what you see, and receive what you are.

So much for what Paul says about the bread. As for the cup, what we have to believe is equally clear, though Paul does not mention it expressly. Just as Scripture describes the unity of the faithful in the words: ‘They were of one mind and heart in God’, so the image of the wine functions in the same way as that of the kneading of many grains into one visible loaf. Think how wine is made. Many grapes hang on the vine in clusters, but their juice flows together into an indivisible liquid once they are crushed. It was in these images that Christ our Lord signified to us that we should belong to him, when he hallow the sacrament of our peace and unity on his table’.

 

Taken from Robert Atwell (ed), Celebrating the Seasons: Daily Spiritual Readings for the Christian Year (1999)