Lev 26-27; 1 Cor 11; Psalm 91
As we saw yesterday, Paul’s arguments concerning both the unity of the church, and also the question of meat sacrificed to idols, come to a focus in the Eucharist.
Here we see how so much of Paul’s theology of the church and the work and life of Christ is shaped by the extraordinary and unique genius of Christian life and faith, foreshadowed in the Old Testament – that is God’s radical identification with his people. In Ephesians 5, we read Paul speaking of the union that is betwixt Christ and his church using the imagery of marriage – the two becoming one flesh. We think supremely of the words of the Risen one in John’s Gospel – ‘abide in me, as I abide in you’ [It is always the Risen one who addresses us in the gospels and this is explicit throughout the gospel of John where the glory of the Cross is not hidden as it is from those who have no faith]
Given that identification, Paul’s language of ‘discerning the body’ is that double edged sword – it is discerning Christ in bread and wine and it is discerning Christ in our brother and sister. We cannot come to the table of the LORD – put another way, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God – if we do not discern Christ. Upon the Cross he takes hold of his people – in Baptism we enter into his death, and are also raised to new life in His resurrection. To look upon or brother and sister is to see, though through a glass darkly, the new creation that is Christ, the Risen one.
Thus Paul is quite clear, our relationships with each other are every bit as significant as our relationship with Christ. They are not one and the same, but Christ has taken our brother and sister into himself in his death ad resurrection, as he has us. We cannot be present to Christ, and absent from our brethren. The measure of our Love for Christ is discerned in this discernment.
By This shall all know that you are Mine – your love for one another.