“DIVIDE IT AMONG YOURSELVES”
“And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.’” (Lk 22: 14-21)
On this Holy and Great Thursday, the Lord spoke to us about two kinds of eating and drinking: one kind, before “the kingdom of God comes,” and another kind, after the kingdom of God comes. As He says, “I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God,” and “from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
Christ inaugurated the second, “eschatological” kind of eating and drinking already here, when He ate (and drank) with His apostles throughout the 40 days after His resurrection (Acts 1: 4), – because His physical, post-resurrectional Presence among us ushered the New Life of the Kingdom into our here and now. And a bit later, on the 50th day after His resurrection (Pentecost), when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, our “eating and drinking” at the Church’s celebration of the Eucharist, by the hands of the apostles and their successors, becomes transfigurative for us, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
But the command of the Lord, when He gives us the “cup” and says, “divide it among yourselves”; and likewise tells us to “do this” with the “bread,” which is broken and “divided among us” in the Era of the Church, is not “un”problematic in this imperfect Era, in which we are divided in Eucharistic communion, (even within the Orthodox Church). This is why, in the Paschal Canon, St. John of Damascus exclaims, “Grant that we may ‘more perfectly’ partake of You (δίδου ἡμῖν ‘ἐκτυπώτερον’ σοῦ μετασχεῖν / подавай нам ‘истее’ Тебе причащатися) in the unending day of Your kingdom” (Paschal Canon, Ode 9). Thus we’re called to strive for “more”; for “more perfectly” partaking in Him, even as we’re already granted such intimate communion with Him, in the Eucharist. Thank You, Lord, for ever-calling us to “more,” of Your new life, that we don’t become complacent in the “eating” and “drinking” we have in You today.