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To divide is not to cause division and to share is not a loss but a gain.

27. Januar 2011

Englischsprachige Predigt von Pater Johannes M.Oravecz OSB beim Gottesdienst im Abendmahlssaal im Rahmen der Gebetswoche für die Einheit der Christen (27. Januar 2011)

Dear Brothers and Dear Sisters in Christ,

We were called together to pray for unity, here in the Upper Room, the very place where our Lord Jesus established His Banquet of Love just before His suffering and death on the Cross at Golgotha. God breaks bread for and with His disciples, His friends, in communion and as a memory of His everlasting presence and love for us.

Full of desire and need for unity of Christ’s Church one ponders in amazement how the fractioning of bread, and pouring out of wine, becomes a sign and symbol of unity, of fraternity, of love. In order to share anything at all, one first needs to invite the other to participate, just as Christ invited his apostles here. One needs to make space for, welcome, and truly give of oneself to the other. To share out of love… is to share love itself- indeed a divine and divinizing action.

Our Lord through His kenotic action of offering Himself up in sacrifice gave a lasting token of love to His disciples - and to us here today - of that relationship, which He shares from the beginning of time within the Holy Trinity. In sharing the bread and wine, Jesus shares the relationship of love with the Father, the Godhead, and the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, that according to the Tradition descended also in this place on the assembly of Jesus’ followers, on the very first Christians. It is precisely this moment, the coming of the Holy Spirit, that represents the naissance of the primitive Church – in oneness and unity. It is that same Spirit that descends upon and sustains us, still called to oneness and unity, in the Spirit, through the Son with the Father:

Oneness and unity in love that surpasses differences and diversities.

God the Father, when creating the world, stepped back, so to say, in order to give space to the world and creation, to the human being, to become a reality. The epistle of St. John (4:16) reminds us that “perfect love casts out fear.” Thus, one who truly loves can bravely step back so that the other person may develop. In the words of Filaret of Moscow: “…we shall fear only the imperfection in learning to love.” (PBvP, 127)

Christ, God’s Logos, is the love of God, and therefore His only possible response to the Father’s will, was that of love. This divine agapic dimension exceeds the imagination and expectations of all times and generations. God chooses the simplest method of teaching His faithful to communion: by providing them with bread. First in the desert and wilderness he fed them with manna, and now us, in our own dessert wanderings and struggles, he shares the bread of life in the Eucharist. Our Savior’s banquet of love is a true mystagogy of God’s closeness to us in sharing bread and wine in communion with Him and with each other. “Do this in memory of me” is more than just a remembrance; it is re-living that unique moment each time we share His Bread and Wine of Life. Sharing with each other the Divine Gifts means also to be enriched by the otherness of the other. We build community through communion following the example of the Holy Trinity: three distinct persons in one communion of one perfect relationship. (Metr. Khrapovitskii). It is a paradox – brokenness that brings wholeness; the emptying of oneself so as to fulfill the other; historic and yet eternal, three in one.

At last: How to live this out in a broken and violent world, or even more so in the fractioned unity of Christ’s Church? Christ’s “method” is as simple as our everyday bread that we all need regardless of origins, denominations and theologies.

Christ’s method is called service in and through self-sacrifice so that the other may find his/her space and reality in the realm of the divine-humane love of God and that of ours.

I am reminded of a true story of three small children. Two of the little tikes got into a conflict: one pushed the other and the other hit back. The third child, not engaged in the discord, was sad to see his brother and sister hurting one another. After a while the third child found a cookie, took it in his little hands, and carefully broke it in half and reached out to his brother. The brother so calmed by the kindness took his piece of cookie, broke it into two smaller pieces and shared it with his sister. Hands that first were hurting were now healing. Heavenly peace replaced sibling rivalry through sharing.
We are called to share, to make space for, to empty ourselves for the sake of the other, to be manna of affection in this dessert of discord. May the Holy Spirit perfect our love, our union.

To divide is not to create division and to share is not a loss but a gain.

Kurzfassung in Französisch:

Frères et sœurs, Nous sommes réunis dans ce lieu mémorable pour exprimer notre désir ardent de l’unité des chrétiens. Posons-nous alors cette question : comment la fraction du pain et le partage du vin que vit ce lieu pour la première fois peuvent-ils être signes et symboles de l’amour et de l’unité chrétienne ?
La réponse est simple : accomplissant la volonté de son Père céleste Jésus a montré dans le pain et le vin partagés le mystère de l’amour pour nos frères et sœurs, pour tous nos frères et sœurs. C’est là la méthode divine pour parvenir à l’unité et la coexistence chrétiennes. Car partager, ici, ne veut pas dire « diviser » ; partager ici n’est plus une perte, mais un enrichissement mutuel et… infini.

Kurzfassung in Italienisch:

In questo luogo dove avvenne l’Ultima Cena ci si domanda perchè la frazione del pane e la condivisione del vino possono essere segni ed esempi di unità.
Gesù, compiendo sempre per amore la volontà del Padre, ha dimostrato nell’Eucaristia il mistero dell’amore verso gli altri.
Ed é precisamente nel servizio vicendevole il metodo divino per raggiungere l’unità e la convivenza.
Qui, la con-divisione non crea una divisione, come anche condividere non è una perdita ma un guadagno vicendevole, un arricchimento senza fine.