Sunday, August 28, 2011

cleave to my inmost parts

After receiving Holy Communion, it is my habit to pray this prayer:

May Thy Body, O Lord, which I have received, and Thy Blood which I have drunk, cleave to my inmost parts, and grant that no stain of sin may remain in me, whom these pure and holy mysteries have refreshed, Who livest and reignest world without end.  Amen.
The phrase cleave to my inmost parts caught my attention and imagination this morning.  It reminded me of what Moses writes at the end of Genesis 2. 
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Some of you are thinking that the point at which I am driving is obvious.  Nevertheless, it is worth meditating upon a truth this beautiful.  This is the type of truth that should not be learned once and then thrown into a corner (as Luther laments too often happens with the Catechism).  Rather, it is the law in which the Christian, as Christian, exercises himself day and night (Ps 1). 

In the Holy Supper Jesus unites Himself with us as surely and intimately as a man unites himself with his wife.  In fact, all human marriage is but a dim reflection of the union between Christ and His Bride (the Church-and on the personal or microcosmic level, the Christian soul).  That is the one true, model, marriage.  Christ is the true Man, Who left His Father in one sense, and His mother in another sense, and cleaves to His holy spouse.  He does this for us, and out of His infinite love for us.

In our flesh we are thoroughly sinful, and in the Eucharist Christ imparts to us His forgiving touch.  In the struggles of life in this world, both as the result of our sin and that of others, we are afflicted with trouble of every sort, assailed by the devil, and hounded on every side by the morbid culture of the world, and in the Eucharist Christ comforts us with His pantokratic and vivifying presence.  He holds us to Himself, and in His Eucharistic embrace He renews our life.

And this eucharistic and mystical union, let us emphasize, is always fruitful.  He plants the seed of His sacramental Word in us, and it bears much fruit, far more than the most fruitful of human marriages.

The whole of the Christian life is soaked in the promises of Baptism.  This insight is one of the geniuses of Lutheran theology.  At the same time we should think on the fact that the whole of life for the Christian is eucharistic, not merely the hour and ten minutes you are in church, or the ten minutes or so in which you have the Eucharist within you, but the whole cycle of your days and weeks, your activity and passivity, your work and your rest, your relationships at home and at work, your commutes and your lunch breaks, your mental life and your verbal and active life, your phone calls and your Internet activity, your reading, writing, art, and conversation.  The whole pattern and trajectory of your life.  It is the sacrificial life of Christ lived out in your life.  It is Christ's witness, His martyrdom, in His members.  You and I are His fruit in this world, even when we don't see it and feel it.  We can assess our lives in terms of our sinfulness.  Yet at the same time, too often we forget that we can also train the eyes of faith to see life in terms of our holiness in Christ.  The eucharistic life is the life of our Eucharistic Lord made manifest in our various callings.  This is part of the truth behind the old saying that our whole life flows out of the Blessed Sacrament, and back to it.

It is worth keeping in your prayers the profound truth of our life in Christ, and the life of His which He imparts to us in His Supper.  I especially encourage you to meditate upon this the next time He does unite Himself with you in this way.  Kneel down for a moment, if you can, and just think about the rich truth of His presence, and its implications. 

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