Jesus said “I am the Bread which comes down from heaven. If any man eat of this Bread he shall live forever, and the Bread I give is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world” (John 7.48-52).
In these words we see the meaning of why we were created, how we are saved and how we are to return to God the Father. This is the very essence of Christianity. Our existence is fulfilled when we return to God and be part of His life. The Fathers of the Church said, “God is made man in order that man might become God”. There is another way of saying the same thing – “man becomes by grace what God is by nature”. I have talked about this before; it is a Byzantine Catholic process we call “theosis”.
Holy Communion is the way we enter most intimately to this Sacrifice of Christ. It is how we receive life. It is how we become brothers and sisters in the Lord as we eat and drink from the same cup. This is how we receive forgiveness of our sins. This is our encounter with the source of all life, so that we may have life ourselves.
The truth is far too important to ignore or to just accept as fact without further attention from ourselves.
The Divine Liturgy and our relationship with God and our fellow mankind is the source or start of our life process. It cannot start and finish this process in church at the liturgy. We leave the church to live the rest of our week. There must be a “liturgy” of our daily lives. Having received Christ on Sunday, that source of energy must carry us on our life’s journey. We cannot treat the church like a petrol station which we visit when our tank is on empty or needs a top up. The liturgy is God’s gift to us, not ours to Him. We are not doing God any favours by showing up in church on Sundays. He has given and continues to give His gift of life to us. He is the source of life. It is a sin of pride to think that we can live without God or this gift of the Divine Liturgy.
Another point. Our presence in church is as important for us as it is for the church. The church needs you to be at the liturgy because the church and the world need a community of people who are filled with the grace and blessings of having been energised by Christ Himself. Our lack of presence in church is a blow to the church as much as it does damage to us. Jesus and the church is a relationship between us and God. It is a family life. We know the loss suffered when members of the family are absent from the family meal or home. Our family life will suffer from the absence of members of the family. On the other hand our lives are strengthened and flourish from a constant relationship with God which is nourished by our presence in the liturgy of the community.