Scripture: Lectionary 443, Sept.17. I Corinthians 11:17-26,33. Psalm 40:7-8,8-9, 10.17. Luke 7:1-10:
Paul is concerned about the way in which the Corinthians participate in the Eucharist. We learn from his epistle that there was an “Agape” meal or love feast meal before the actual celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The sinful behavior of the Corinthians is that of selfishness, drunkenness on the part of some, and disregard of the poorer members of the community. Paul tells those who are guilty to stay at home to enjoy their meal there and not to behave as they are doing before the Eucharist. Unity, love, and attentiveness are lacking and thus the Eucharist is not reverently celebrated. Paul
calls the celebration “The Lord’s Supper” a term that is only used here in the Scriptures, but continues in our present day.
The priority of the Eucharistic meal is at the heart of Paul’s confrontation. He is making them listen to what is really important when they come together. We profit from what he is sharing for we have the first actual presentation of Jesus’ words at the Last Supper. The gospels all come after Paul. If we examine them we find that once again Paul and Luke are close in the words they hand on to us. Paul is not receiving a direct revelation from the Lord on this occasion but what he has received already from the believing community of Jerusalem and Antioch. He is relying on “what he received” in the tradition. There is the mention of both the bread and the cup of the Eucharist. Bread and wine are the sacred elements used in this sacramental rite.
Charity and unity are the effects of receiving the Lord with reverence and propriety. Apparently, here is where the Corinthians have failed in their appreciation of the Eucharist. Paul must stop this at once so that the socializing pattern does not destroy the essential celebration of the Eucharist. Moreover, their socializing was scandalous—drunken behavior, disregard for members of lower standing,
and disregard for the poor. The Eucharist is not a beer and pretzel party. If that is what they want they should do that at home or in the pubs of that time!
Paul records these words: “This is my Body which is for you…Do this in remembrance of me.” Then “This chalice is the new covenant in my blood.” The sacred remembrance, the words, and the concern of Paul helps us realize how great a gift the Eucharist is. It is an encouragement for us to be devout, attentive, reverent, and prayerful. We are to realize and internalize that “Every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”
We need to practice all these plus patience (regarding not looking at clocks or iphones, nor being anxious about getting to the parking lot first. Unity and peace are necessary for making the Eucharist a gift that helps us to truly love one another and to pray for one another.
As Paul early said and now we recall it again, “Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. Let us celebrate the festival, not by eating the old bread of wickedness and evil, but by eating the new bread of purity and truth.” 1 Cor. 5:7-8. Amen.