Sacrament of the Altar
Today we continue our series on the Sacrament of the Altar. Last week, we discussed the second way of getting the most out of communion by keeping in mind what benefits we receive. This week we will talk about the third way, that is who is to receive communion. But first, let’s review the passage of scripture we are studying:
As they were eating, Jesus took some bread. He thanked God for it and broke it. He gave it to the disciples and said, `Take this bread and eat it. It is my body.’ He also took a cup. He thanked God for it. Then he gave it to the disciples and said, `All of you drink from this. This is my blood. My blood is the blood of the new agreement. It is given so that many people will be forgiven for the wrong things they did.
Matthew 26:26-28 WEB
Who is to Receive it?
St. Hilary, otherwise known as the Hammer of the Arians, who lived in the fourth century said, “if anyone has not committed a sin for which he can rightly be out of the congregation and be considered no Christian, he ought not to stay away from the sacrament, lest he should deprive himself of life“.
The command of Christ says “As often as you drink it”. This does not mean that we partake whenever we feel we are weak. But that we are to take it every opportunity that we are given. For as long as we are within this unglorified body, as long as we are within this world we will have the devil constantly bombarding us trying to destroy our faith. Martin Luther of blessed memory said, “No one will live so well that he will not have many daily weaknesses in flesh and blood”.
Now, many good Christians avoid the sacrament because they believe they must rightly prepare themselves for the honor of receiving it. This many times leads them to go for months if not years without this blessed gift. This stems from a very genuine love for Jesus but is a misguided expression of love. We do not abstain from medicine when we are sick so that we may be well enough to take it. Therefore, as long as we have faith enough to trust that what Jesus says is true:
- That the Sacrament is His body
- That He forgives my sins
- That He gives this free gift particularly to me
then we are to approach the holy table and on bended knee receive the one Who died for us. That we may live to Him and be His light in this dark world.
But be warned. Those who willfully stay away from this glorious gift bring just as much judgment on themselves as the one who takes it unworthily. For Christ gave us this gift to be used for the healing of souls. For us to spurn such a gift and say we will have nothing of it is to spurn the very sacrifice of Christ Himself. One who willfully avoids this gift can in no wise be called Christian.
But, he who with weak faith, of his own will, and for his own benefit, comes on his knees before the Throne of his King and receives this medicine may be assured that it will bring him to salvation, into the warm embrace of his Savior. Where no one may pluck him out.
Today we wrapped up our series on the Sacrament of the Altar with the third way we can appreciate communion. So many good Christians willingly deprive themselves of this necessity because they do not think they are worthy. Yet our worthiness is a free gift from Jesus Christ so that we may be ever strengthened to walk in the Christian way. How does knowing Jesus’ desire for you to receive His body and blood for your good encourage not to abandon hope in the valley of temptation?
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Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.