The Mystery of the Holy Communion

What is Holy Communion?

It is a sacrament through which we are far off from the domination of sin and get nearer of attain to communion with God. It originates from the rites conducted by the children of Israel when they attained their freedom from the bondage of slavery and so killed a ritual sheep and sprinkled its blood on the door posts to protect themselves from sudden death and destruction. Based on this example, Jesus Christ, who is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world has founded the Mystery of the Holy Communion by offering. Himself as a true sacrifice on the cross. (Ex. 5-15 Isa. 53: 7 Jn. 1:29). “For the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God,” (Heb. 7:19)

The Preparation and Presentation of the Holy Communion is in the form of bread and wine; i.e. like that of Melchizedek, King of Salem’s presentation to Abraham (Gen. 14:18). Why the Holy Communion is called Mystery is that by partaking of the visible Bread and Wine, we attain to invisible heavenly blessings and eternal life. “…Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me; and I in him,” (Jn. 6: 53-57). “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread of drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, (will be examined by the Blessed Holy Trinity of being unworthy) and will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the Bread and drink of the Cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged’ (1 Cor. 11:27-32). It is, therefore, based on this teaching that the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church calls upon her followers to be pure from sin, reveille strange thoughts, fornication etc. and to receive the true flesh and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified upon the cross on Holy Friday for the salvation of the world.

The priest when putting the bread on the plate and the wine in the cup (chalice) blesses them. During the service of the Holy Liturgy, the bread turns into the true flesh of the Son of God and the wine into the true blood of the Son of God. Athanasius said, “we believe that the bread and wine before the priest blesses them are simple bread and wine, but after the blessing they are truly turned into the flesh and the blood of the Son of God, “Therefore, what the Apostles received on the night of Good Thursday, and what has been sacrificed upon the cross on Good Friday, and what is still being offered today and to the end of the world in the four corners of the world is one band the same. St. John of Chrysostom said that, the poor sacrifice which the priests offer every time is one and the same sacrifice, which has been offered upon the cross.
He (St. John) also confirms that it is not a symbol, but the real and blood of the Son of God.

Supporting scriptural words about the teaching Of the Holy Communion “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, take, cat; this is my Body. And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, drink of it, all of you; for this is my Blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins,” (Mt. 26: 26-29; Mk, 14: 22; Lk. 22: 19). “Truly truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world” (Jn. 6: 32; 35; 51-59), such passages confirm the doctrine of the Holy Communion. (2)