The Body of Christ in the Eucharist

In the preceding article it was theologically shown that in saying, “This is my blood“, Christ meant nothing else than the very blood that was shed upon the Cross, the very blood that circulated in His immaculate body. In the present article we are to prove the same truth with respect to His body. In saying, “This is my body,” Christ meant nothing else than the very body that was hanged upon the Cross, an offered as a God-pleasing sacrifice to God. This proposition can be established directly from the preceding one. If it be avowed that the blessed wine of the cup was transubstantiated into blood of Christ, we must necessarily also avow that the blessed bread was transubstantiated into Christ’s body, and that Christ meant the words “body” and “blood” as we understand them and believe. But we have also other reasons and grounds upon which we can prove perspicuously the reality and truth of our faith, and it is our duty to set them forth too.

Christ called that mystic supper Easter (Pascha), for He said to His disciples, when He reclined with them, “With desire I have desired to eat this Easter with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15). Some have supposed, wrongly that Christ was here speaking of the Jewish Passover, and that Christ ate the Jewish Passover before the sacrament of the Eucharist. This tenet is proved groundless from the law of the Passover, and from the time of its celebration. According to the law of the Passover it could not be eaten sitting, nor with bread, but had to be eaten standing and with unleavened wafers. “And thus shall ye eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s passover.(Exodus 12:11).

“And they shall eat the meat on this night baked in fire and shall eat unleavened wafers with bitter herbs . . . Whosoever eateth leavened bread, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel.” (Exodus 12:8, 19). Since, therefore, the Jewish Passover was eaten standing with unleavened wafers, and leavened bread was forbidden on pain of death, Christ could not have committed this breach of law, which Judas, of course, who was present, would have denounced to the Jews, who were seeking for a legal excuse for putting Him to death. John the Evangelist bears witness that the supper of Holy Thursday took place before the celebration of the Passover; and when the Lord entered the pretorium of Pilate, they kept out to avoid being contaminated and thus prevented from eating the Passover. From this it is evident that the evening of Holy Thursday was not the time of the Passover. Since, therefore, it is proved from both the law and the time of the Jewish Passover that on that evening of Holy Thursday the Jewish Passover was not being celebrated, it may be concluded that the Easter of which Christ speaks, the Easter which with desire He had desired to eat before He suffered, is the sacrament of the divine Eucharist. In order to understand the reality and truth of the Christian Easter, as opposed to the Jewish Passover, we must have recourse to the Jewish Passover by which it was prefigured. We must first look at the shadow in order afterwards to recognize and understand the thing itself. When God was about to shatter the Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness, and to lead the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt in order to conduct them into the land of promise, He ordered the sacrifice of the lamb, which sacrifice was called the Passover, meaning the crossing or passing through, because by virtue of this sacrifice they were freed from slavery and passed over into the place of freedom. On the fourteenth day of the month of March towards evening every family of Israelites used to slaughter a full-bodied lamb, or a one-year-old sheep. With its blood they daubed their doorposts and the lintel overhead, and they ate the victim baked in fire that night with unleavened wafers. This sacrifice was called the Passover because it was by virtue thereof that the yoke of slavery was shattered, and the children of Israel passed over into the land of promise, the land of freedom.

“For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgement; I am the Lord. And the blood shall be unto you a token for the houses where you are there; and when I see the blood, I will protect you; and no plague shall be upon you to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you a memorial . . . . . . And it came to pass that in the middle of the night the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive in the dungeon and unto the firstborn of all cattle; but the houses of the children of Israel he spared.” (from Exodus ch. 12)

Why did God not wish to free the Jews without the sacrifice of a lamb? And why did He impose on them as a necessary condition for their salvation that they should eat all the lamb and daub the doors of their houses with the blood of it? Because that lamb prefigured the true Lamb that taketh away the sin of the world, whom John the Forerunner pointed out by the Jordan, saying: “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” God wished, therefore, to prefigure the law governing the salvation and liberation of our souls from the dishonorable yoke of the Devil, and to foreshow whom He was to save and whom He was to destroy. For the power of God is a power of justice and law, and as such it saves those who behave according to the law, while it punishes and kills the sons of iniquity. The angel of divine justice kills all the firstborn of the Egyptians, because the Egyptians did not recognize the Lord nor His law. The Lord protects the children of Israel from the plague, because they had eaten the lamb of God, and had daubed the doors of of their future houses things, with its which blood. Such things, says Paul, were types and images of future things, which we can see with our eyes today. The sacrifice of the lamb prefigured the sacrifice of Christ. Just as the Jews at that time were obliged to eat all the lamb sacrificed and to daub the doors of their houses with its blood, in order to avoid suffering like things with the Egyptians, so are we are obliged to eat all the body of Christ, and to drink of His blood, in order to avoid being punished forever in like manner with the impious, who do not recognize the Lord nor His law.

But how can the body of Christ be eaten, and His blood be drunk? Christ taught us how to do this, when He said at the mystic supper: “Take, eat this is my body, which is broken for you. Drink ye of it all. For this is my blood, which is shed for you and many others for the remission of sins.” Since, moreover, Christ called this mystery Easter, saying, “With desire I have desired to eat this Easter with you before I suffer,” it is to be concluded that the bread of the Eucharist is the very body of Christ that was sacrificed upon the Cross, and that the wine is the very blood that flowed out of His punctured side. For, if we momentarily admit the misbelief of the Protestants, we must necessarily also admit that Christ made a great mistake in calling a thing Passover that was no Passover, and that we are nowise benefited by the sacrifice of Christ as not having taken a share of His body and blood. For Easter, or Passover, signifies a sacrifice of the Lord that transfers those who share in it from the yoke of slavery into the law of duty and of freedom, from the land of Egypt into the Land of Promise. If, therefore, the mystery of the Eucharist is not identical with the sacrifice of the Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world, it should not have been called Easter by Christ; and if we eat mere bread instead of the body, and drink mere wine instead of the blood, what good does the sacrifice of Christ on Golgotha do us? We should then be under the necessity of remaining forever under the yoke of slavery, because there should be no such thing as an Easter for us.

Such are the consequences of the misbelief of the Protestants, and such are the benefits the Protestants are come to impart to Orthodox Christian Greeks. These men are come not only to blaspheme the Superholy Mother of God, but even our Lord Jesus Christ, by calling Him a false Messiah and the founder of a false Easter, are so ignorant as not to know the significance even of that first term of Jewish worship. These men are come to teach us the abnegation of the reality and truth of the treasure entrusted to us and the disregard of the law governing our salvation and freedom, that we may go to the outer fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. Yet they say that by obeying them and apostatizing from the faith of our fathers, we shall receive as our reward the honor and glory of this age. They say that Greece cannot attain to the civilization and happiness of the modern nations as long as it is kept bound under such superstitions and prejudices. By saying these things they convince the foolish. The prudent, however, not only are not convinced, but are able to disprove their illogical reasonings by scientifically proving that Greece is kept bound under the laws and covenants of God, and if it remain to the end faithful to the Testament of God, it shall be saved and glorified. “He that endureth to the end shall be saved.” While the blind tools of the Devil (for if they could see, they would not have become preachers and apostles of Satanic notions) attempt to pull us down into misbelief and everlasting perdition, are we who can see better than they not obliged to remain firm and unyielding and extend a hand of restraint to those who are tottering, and, if possible, to convert the apostles of the Devil into apostles of Christ? We therefore advise the Protestants here to be catechized in Orthodoxy, and after abjuring their misbelief, to leave Greece and go to the United States, where they may become apostles of Christ to the Americans, instead of trying to be apostles of the Devil to the Orthodox Greeks.

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