Second Sunday of the Glorious Epiphany
الأحد الثاني بعد عيد الدنح
Year 112 - Issue No. 3 || Jan 16 –22, 2022
The Fifth Luminous Mystery, the institution of the Holy Eucharist. It is in today’s Gospel: “Behold, the Lamb of God!” the words of John the Baptist answering the question of Genesis 22:7: Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” that the priest says in Syriac, the language of the Lord: And on the day before His Lifegiving passion... that is, today…” I can remember first adverting to those three words (“that is, today”) at a Holy Thursday Liturgy in the seminary. These three words, uttered daily in Syriac, bring the Lord’s Supper into the present, and the Eucharist into our hearts here and now. In the more ancient form, of the Latin mass, the priest turns to the people to show them the newly-consecrated Host. He says ecce Agnus Dei; ecce qui tollit peccata mundi (“behold the Lamb of God; behold Him who takes away the sins of the world”), just as he does in the Ordinary Form. But then, in the Extraordinary Form, priest and people say three times rather than just once, “Lord I am not worthy….” The effect is that all “behold” the Lamb three times longer than in the Ordinary Form. It permits time to “behold,” to look more deeply, to “study His face,” rather than to simply glace up at Him.
In every Divine Liturgy I hold up the sacred Host, and look at your faces through Him. A feeling of tenderness comes to me. Feelings are undependable, but I think we should take what is true from them and discard what is not true. This feeling accorded with the truth of what I hold in my hands; and so this blessed assurance, which deepened into an act of faith, comes to me as I elevate the Host. “I believe, Jesus, that you are in my hands at this moment. You look at me, and I look at you. You clothe yourself in the simple and tender appearance of smooth bread, a little bit of unleavened manna between my thumb and forefinger. You look at me, you look at all of us, with tender love. I love you… My Lord and my God!.”
It’s as simple as that. The Sacred Eucharist, the entire Judeo-Christian revelation which has determined human history on this planet, is as simple as that little white Host. Consider that the rule of law, free-market economies, the development of the arts and sciences—all stem from that day when God spoke to Abram in the Chaldean desert. God assured Moses that “I AM … here … for you.” He is here, for us, at every Divine Liturgy. I can feel that presence of God, directing humanity, when I hold up the Lord of history, the lover of mankind, between thumb and forefinger, while looking at your faces, through Him, with Him and in Him.
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May God abundantly bless your heart!