I Make Bold to Invite You to This Mystical Communion

A Homily Before Communion on Holy Thursday

Photo: wikimedia.org Photo: wikimedia.org     

My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at thy house with My disciples (Mt. 26:18).

Thus it was commanded to say to the owner of the house where the Savior intended to celebrate His final Passover. They weren’t told who this lucky householder was—those sent were supposed to recognize him on the spot. The traitor was seeking every opportunity to carry out his plan, therefore, it was necessary to conceal the place of the Passover until it was time to celebrate it. Undoubtedly, when they arrived, they all learned whose house it was, but even afterwards none of the Evangelists told us the name of the happy householder. The interpreters of the Holy Scriptures present various reasons for this secrecy. But I think it will be no sin if we say that the name of this man is omitted because he represents every true follower of Christ.

In particular, brethren, he cannot but represent you who are about to approach the Communion of the Holy Mysteries. You want to taste the Passover of the Lord, to commune of the Body and Blood of our Savior; and our Savior and Lord wants to taste the Passover with you, to communicate likewise with your spirit and body, to be united with each of you forever. Don’t be surprised by this, and don’t take it for some turn of phrase that I have invented. The Apostle didn’t mince words, but spoke the truth when he wrote that inasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same (Heb. 2:14). Our Savior and Lord partook of the flesh and blood of all of mankind by taking upon Himself our nature. But now He wants to communicate with the spirit, flesh, and blood of us all; He wants to make us all His temple and dwelling place; He wants to be the beginning of our life, to occupy our hearts and minds. To this mystical Communion I dare invite you in the name of the Lord! The words will be mine (if, indeed, we who are talking here have anything of our own), but the thoughts will be taken from His talks with the disciples. If you are His true disciples, or at least desire to be such, you won’t consider them foreign, as not pertaining to you.

My time is at hand (Mt. 26:18), the Lord commands us to say. That is, it’s as if He said, “My earthly ministry is drawing to an end.” I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do (Jn. 17:4), He says to His Father. I have proclaimed His name and the love of My brethren to men; I have proclaimed blessedness to the weeping, the meek, the merciful, the persecuted, and the suffering; I concealed not the grief that awaits the wicked, the proud, the rapacious, and the perjurious: All that remains now is to bear witness to the truth of My teaching in deed, to take up the cross that I have preached to all, and go with it to Golgotha, as an example to all.

My time is at hand: The deceitful disciple has already betrayed Me, the silver has been given and received; the prince of the world has descended from his throne to engage Me in combat (Jn. 14:30); the spear is ready; it remains only to go out to meet it, to receive the sycophantic kiss, and give My back to scourges, and My cheeks to blows (Is. 50:6). My time is at hand: I see how My Father Himself has mixed the cup of wrath and sorrow; it is coming and will not pass away; the drops of blood that I did sweat in the Garden do not mean I will forego the baptism of blood; I must give over not only My body, but also My spirit into the hands of the Father. My time is at hand! But before I finish My endeavors and depart to the Father, I desire to share My feelings with you, My followers; I desire to inaugurate the New Testament, which is confirmed by My Blood. I desire to leave some permanent memorial of My love to you: With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer (Lk. 22:15).

“But where shall we gather for it? Jerusalem is filled with My enemies. In the halls of Annas and Caiaphas dwell hypocrisy, pride, and simony. They are ready to tear clothing asunder—not to lay it out on My path, but to expose Me. I will be there—not for the Passover, but to receive blows and spitting. Pilate’s praetorium is broader—long with love for the world, there lives a certain love for justice, but the name of the friend of Caesar is more important than the name of the friend of truth and God: It’s not for Me to eat the Passover with the confidants of Tiberius! Let them wash their hands before the people; but I will wash the feet of My disciples. It’s better to be judged than to be a judge in this Gabbatha (Jn. 19:13). When it proves necessary, I will appear there—to receive the crown of thorns.

My time is at hand; but I have no place or refuge. The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head (Mt. 8:20). I was born in a manger, I will die on the Cross. What am I to do? Forsake the Passover? No, I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil the Law (Mt. 5:17). And how could I forsake the Passover that prefigures My death? What, therefore, will I do? This I will do: I will keep the Passover at thy house with My disciples.

“With you, Christian, with you, who call yourself My disciple and have sworn to follow me even unto death. If you give me not shelter, where shall I find it? But you can’t but give it: You were born in the font of the Baptism of My Blood, anointed, and sealed with My Spirit; you feed upon My Body and Blood, and you look for eternal life in My name: Shall you not receive Me and give Me rest?

“So, where is the large upper room (Lk. 22:12), that I may be situated with all My gifts? Where the unleavened bread of purity and truth (1 Cor. 5:8)? Where the bitter concoction of self-sacrifice and patience? Where the Paschal lamb—'a clean heart and contrite spirit?’ (Ps. 50). Bring out everything that you have, adorn My supper, and allow Me to be comforted by what My grace has worked in you.

“But instead of rejoic[ing] greatly because of the Bridegroom’s voice (Jn. 3:29), you are as silent as a condemned man! I see the reason: Your inner man has no place to lay its head; the house of your spirit is ‘empty and fallen’; there is neither a lamp of faith nor the oil of love; all is filled with impurity—with the passions and deleterious thoughts. Woe unto you: The zeal of thine house hath eaten Me up (Jn. 2:17). My time is at hand; and perhaps your time is not far off: When I come again, I shall not find you on Earth anymore. Neither of us has time to waste. Thus, make haste! Permit not our common enemy, the devil, to have the victory over you. I have the means to fix everything: Only agree to be Mine; only open the doors of your heart, grant Me to occupy the whole interior of your being. Once I am in you, then everything will immediately take on a different appearance. I will replace all the preparations with Myself: I will wash your feet Myself, I will be the light, I will be the Lamb. Grieve not; we will both be filled with joy: You are Mine and I am yours; only, forsake the inclination to sin, forever part from your evil life, and resolve to be Mine in everything!”

By your own faces, brethren, I see that the voice of the Lord to you, though it comes from my unworthy mouth, does indeed work in you. After this, I can desire nothing more than that this work would last in you and leave its enduring traces in you. And how could it not last? You have heard the words, now you will see the deed. What have I given you? The Lord will give you His Body and Blood. Will such a gift not touch the one who receives it? Moreover, if we His servants speak with you in His name, will He Himself remain silent within you? He ever speaks to us in our consciences, and all the more so He cannot help but speak to our hearts through a mystical union with us. Thus, hearken to what the Lord is saying to you now. Will He speak peace? Accept it with thanksgiving, and preserve it in a clear conscience. Will He utter a rebuke? Give thanks equally, and make haste to correct what has been reproved. Will He begin to drive the money changers out of your inner temple?

Don’t contradict, don’t defend, but rather join Him and act. The Lord Himself will teach you everything, what thou must do (Acts 9:6); only listen and fulfill it!


St. Innocent of Kherson
Translation by Jesse Dominick



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