A Commentary on a Prayer for the Eucharistic LifePosted: August 15, 2015
Father, I pray this day I would be living the eucharistic life which is in accordance to your will for me in Christ Jesus. Thus, by the Holy Spirit may I be giving thanks in, with, and for all things, in order that I might bear Christ to all and all things, and that I might bear all and all things to Christ Jesus; that I might be self-giving and other-receiving; that I might live as broken bread and poured out wine for the life of the world and the sake of all things to the praise and glory of your name.
1 Thes 5: 18 reads, “Give thanks in all things: for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” St. Paul writes in all things (en panti) in the Greek dative case. The dative case, essentially, shows relationship. Most simply it could state where something is in relationship (in terms of position) to something else. For example, the bread is in the kitchen. Beyond this most simple use, the dative case can show position in a far more complex relationship. St. Paul writes this in 2 Cor 5: 17, “So that if anyone [is] in Christ (en Christo) [he/she is] a new creation.” Here the dative case declares our relational position in Christ. This usage declares relational union in Christ.
The very same thing can be said about the phrase, “give thinks in all things. It shows our relational union in all things. Regarding this verse, some English translations read, “…in all circumstances”. This is a good translation, and gets to the heart of what St. Paul is getting at in the epistle’s verse. However, a better way to translate the phrase is, “give thanks in, with, and for all things.” Although awkward, it captures our relational union with the circumstance in which we find ourselves.
This awkward translation teaches how we are to view ourselves in any situation – however pleasant or unpleasant it may be. “…in, with, and for all things” states that we incarnate the situation. We are in union with it. In this union we do not keep it at arms length and deny the opportunity. As the prayer states, we are to be “self-giving and other receiving”. We act in solidarity with the circumstance and the people found in it. “…in, with, and for all things” demands that we, in some way, are to redeem it – capture it – and bear it as priests to Christ our High Priest. We redeem it and now it, in some way, is in Christ. Acting in a eucharistic way also bears it to the Eucharist of the Divine Liturgy: our grateful action is joined to the Gifts which will become Christ’s Body and Blood. And of course, none of this is possible without the working of the Holy Spirit in, with, and for us!
May I live as broken bread and poured out wine for the life of the world and the sake of all things, to the praise and glory of your Name. Amen.
Furthermore, by acting as Christ in the situation – which only can come about by giving thanks for it in faith – we are transformed! Meaning, as we act as Christ in imitation of him by the Holy Spirit, Christ is more completely formed in us. The eucharistic life in Christ and by the Holy Spirit is to transform us into someone we are not yet seeing or being. Let me give an illustration. In the eastern half of Washington State, especially in the beautiful Palouse region, there are uncountable acres of wheat. Elsewhere in the eastern part of the state there are acres upon acres upon acres of lovely vineyards. The grains of wheat and the clusters of grapes are harvested. They are crushed, or broken. Then they go through a transformation that makes them something far more than they were “wild” in the fields or vineyards. These grains and grapes, broken and transformed, become bread and wine. Some of these grains and grapes will have the special, holy blessing of being made into bread and wine that will be offered in the Eucharist. They will bear Christ’s Body and Blood in them. They will re-present the Incarnation to the faithful who have gathered together in worship — Christ is given to us anew. They will bear also all of Christ’s saving acts to the people of God assembled before him who consume his Body and Blood. By consuming his Body and Blood we carry Christ in us, and by acts of faith we will unfold Christ before the entirety of creation. By so doing we too become a sacrament of God.
This prayer for the eucharistic life is to empower us to incarnate Christ into any and every situation. By so acting we act as Christ. Here is an axiom: in order to do we must become, in order to become we must do. If we “do” the Eucharist we become “eucharists.” We become transformed into a new eucharistic bread and wine, and our holy actions will bring praise and glory to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.