Do We Realize an Urgent Need in the Church?
(TEV)Devotional Discussion Thought fo the Day:
1 I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, 3 striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: 4 one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6 (NAB)
Not only by the reception of the sacrament but by the words associated with the sacrament the heart will be encouraged to believe and be quickened. For it is in the words that God promises the forgiveness of sins: “This is my body, given for you.” “This is the cup of the new covenant,” is the new promise, the promised righteousness, eternal life, “in my blood which is shed for many for the remission of sin.”
Thus they obtain the forgiveness of sins not through any outward act but through the faith which is awakened by the word and the sign.
Also the people are to be taught that this sign has been instituted not only to awaken faith but also to instruct us in love, as St. Paul says in I Cor. 10[:17]: “It is one loaf and it is one body, for we all partake of the same loaf.” We are not to harbor envy and hatred, but each is to care for the other, to help the other with alms and every kind of service which God has commanded us.
This teaching shall be repeated often. For what else is it than dishonor of the body of Christ when we harbor envy and hate and want to show no love and yet want to be considered a part of the body of Christ
First of all, that the Last Supper of Jesus is recognized as the authentic occasion of the founding of the Church: Jesus bestows on his own this liturgy of his death and Resurrection and, in doing so, bestows on them also the feast of life. At the Last Supper he repeats the covenant of Mount Sinai—or better: what was there initiated only in signs becomes here the full reality—a union of blood and life between God and mankind. When we say this, it is clear that the Last Supper anticipates both Cross and Resurrection yet at the same time necessarily presumes them, for otherwise everything would be but an empty gesture. That is why the Fathers of the Church could say, in a very beautiful image, that the Church sprang from the open side of the Lord, from which there flowed blood and water. That is, in reality, only another way of formulating the thought I express when I say: the Last Supper is the beginning of the Church. For it always means that the Eucharist unites mankind not only with one another but with Christ and so constitutes humanity as the Church, thus giving, at the same time, the basic constitution of the Church: the Church lives in eucharistic communities
Some people are afraid of it, for they assume unity means compromise.
Some people are afraid of it because they know that such unity does mean change, and requires us to submit our will, our right to grievances, our resentment and even jealousy to God’s desire for His people.
Some are simply afraid of it, no let’s be honest, we are afraid of “them.” Of those we’ve been taught to stand opposed to, even as we recognize that we confess the same creeds ( or if we are “anti-creedal – we cover the same ground in our faith statements.)
And yet, in the New Testament, there is a definite call for the church to be “one,” to be unified, to be about the ministry of reconciliation. It is part of Jesus prayer, where He asks the Father to bless us, that we would all be one. It is a major them in the 2 letters to the Corinthians, and to the Galatians, it is obviously here in Ephesians, and the great passage in Philippians 2 describing in Christ’s ministry to us, is to urge us to unity, to submit our personal desires and even needs to serve those who need it.
Even our enemies, even those we are afraid of, even those who cause anxiety.
This kind of unity is not worked out in theological dialogues, or debates. It is not fostered by blogs and vlogs and podcasts. In fact, those monologs, even ones like this urging unity, don’t foster the unity.
That is done in the sacraments, where God shows unity not only to be possible, but to be created. Some will hopefully wet our appetite for such a unity, while I fear far more urge greater division, greater separation because of a false understanding of holiness and purity.
In our mutual baptism, we are each joined to Christ. Where we are so united, we share in His death, and in the resurrection. But even as we individually are drawn to Him, and find that He has united us to Himself, we find we are united together.
We also see it as we kneel and commune, as we share in the body and blood of Jesus together. Where each of us is reminded we are part of the covenant, and we commune with the Body and Blood of Jesus, together. Here are the words of St. Paul on this,
16 The cup we use in the Lord’s Supper and for which we give thanks to God: when we drink from it, we are sharing in the blood of Christ. And the bread we break: when we eat it, we are sharing in the body of Christ. 17 Because there is the one loaf of bread, all of us, though many, are one body, for we all share the same loaf.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (TEV)
It is in these things where we not only encounter God, but are joined to them that we find we are joined. Where the urgency that Paul observes finds not only hope, but the reality of what it means to be “one, holy (pure/set apart), catholic (universal – there is only one) and apostolic ( the church with a mission, a church that is sent into the word) Church.
A mission that is seen as people look at His church, His people and say, “see what love they have for each other!” and thereby are drawn to Jesus. AMEN!
Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works, Vol. 40: Church and Ministry II. Ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann. Vol. 40. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999. Print.
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Posted on October 12, 2016, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, Martin Luther and tagged community, Concordia, faith, Jesus, Life in Christ, love, one holy catholic and apostolic church, Unity of the Church. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.