This Maundy Thursday the last two readings focus on the Lord’s Supper.
I’ve extended the second reading for the sake of this exhortation: “Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” From the context it’s reasonably clear that Paul isn’t exhorting the hearers to confession before communion or to a proper eucharistic theology. At this time the Lord’s Supper was still part of a shared meal, and what horrifies Paul is that everyone is, so to speak, eating out of their own picnic basket, with the pride and callousness of the well-to-do on full display. And the one Body, Christ’s Body, the Church (1 Cor 10:17), suffers. In Israel some congruence was necessary between what happened in the temple and what happened outside the temple (e.g., Isa 1:10-17); in the Church some congruence between the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ at the Lord’s Supper and the ways all the members of Christ’s Body receive (treat) each other.
“Do this in remembrance of me.” “Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacles of human greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold…” (Dom Gregory Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, 744).
But this week? Earlier this month Fr. Chris Arnold pointed us to Rev. Ruth Meyers’ “Spiritual Communion in a Season of Social Distancing”. Meyers notes various current strategies, highlighting the prayer for spiritual communion found in the Prayer Book for the Armed Services:
“In union, O Lord, with your faithful people at every altar of your Church, where the Holy Eucharist is now being celebrated, I desire to offer to you praise and thanksgiving. I remember your death, Lord Christ; I proclaim your resurrection; I await your coming in glory. Since I cannot receive you today in the Sacrament of your Body and Blood, I beseech you to come spiritually into my heart. Cleanse and strengthen me with your grace, Lord Jesus, and let me never be separated from you. May I live in you and you in me, in this life and in the life to come. Amen.”
Another reason why I’m thankful for our Companion Diocese in Masvingo (Zimbabwe).