Articles Devotional

The Last Paschal Meal of Our Lord and God Jesus Christ

2. The second problem is based on what love demads. The ultimate characteristic of love is to GIVE, and GIVE PERFECTLY UNTIL THERE IS NOTHING MORE TO GIVE. This is ultimately the self-emptying of the person who loves. We often talk about Jesus, who emptied Himself. The ultimate act of love is to lay down one’s own life for those whom he loves. Jesus Himself talks about it: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15: 13), because death is the final mark of real love, because there is nothing more to give beyond that point. It is also the most joyful act of the lover. In order to show His genuine love for humanity, Christ would have been willing to die a thousand or ten thousand times. But the naturally contradicting fact is that no one can die a second time (except a couple of people who were brought back to life by Jesus after their death and died a second time again). “… it is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27). This is the lot every human being. Jesus was sent by His father to taste death only once, “knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more” (Romans 6:9). Now we have a problem that these two facts are contradicting each other.

Jesus clearly dealt with this problem. He could die only once, because that was what the Father had intended. His sacrifice by death on the cross was only for one time. But how could He show His love constantly by dying everyday until He returns? After the Words of Institution he added the following: “Do this in memory of Me” (Luke 22: 19). This is His solution to the problem; and this solution divided western Christendom in the 16th century. Actually, this writer would attribute this crisis to the Latin doctrine that Christ dies and dies everyday on the altar in every Eucharistic Liturgy (repetition of Christ’s death in the Eucharist was a commonly accepted position in the Roman Church until the Second Vatican Council; later with the new document on Liturgy accepted at this Council this Church also virtually accepted the Eastern doctrine on this very critical issue).

When Jesus commanded to His disciples to “Do this in memory of Me”, the early Church from the apostolic times well understood that Christ could not physically or spiritually die again, because it was against the will of the Father. What the Orthodox Churches teaches is that in every Eucharistic Liturgy, Christ’s death is being realized and ACTUALIZED in our midst and in our time, which is the only way the Body and Blood of the Paschal Lamb can be given to every generation for their eternal life. It is the very sacrifice of the second person by death on the cross, the effects of which can be imparted to every generation only by actualizing or realizing the same sacrifice of death on the cross mystically, and sacramentally. If it is not the very sacrifice of death on the cross, Jesus cannot give His life-giving Blood and Body for the life of the World until He returns. In order to distribute His Body and Blood, this sacramental actualization is vital in the economy of human salvation. And Jesus, Who died two thousand years ago cannot give the gushing Blood and tortured Body for the life of His followers. Hence it was important that the very sacrifice of His life on the cross is to be mystically brought into or actualized in front of us on the altar everyday.

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