And when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me. – I Corinthians 11:24 NIV. The best food for the soul is provided by Christ’s actions at the dinner table during His Last Supper.
The taking of Communion is meant to commemorate His death, celebrate His resurrection and consecrate the communicants. We receive the best food for the soul every time we take the bread and eat it and take the cup and drink it and do it all “In remembrance of Him.” Communion is meant to keep Christ’s memory fresh on our minds and help us remember that He died for us. Christ willingly took on the task of being a sacrificial offering to God, as He procured, by His death, the remission of our sins and a new life for us.
When we do this, we declare that His death was important and this act feeds our souls and grants us new life and from it springs comfort and hope. The thought of His sacrifice for us satiates our spiritual hunger and quenches our spiritual thirst.
Paul gives these instructions to the Corinthians (11:23-34), though he was not physically present at the Last Supper, but without adding or diminishing a thing. Paul gives us a better account of it than we can find anywhere else in the Bible.
The taking of communion is called the Eucharist. And the elements of the Eucharist are “the bread” and “the cup.” Actually, we are not told what’s in the cup but we assume it was wine. The inference is that the elements are turned into “His body” and “His blood.” This is called “the Doctrine of Transubstantiation.”
The power of the Eucharist is completed by the actions taken by the communicants. When Christ’s body (the bread) is broken and His blood (the wine) is shed and we eat and drink, together with all the benefits flowing from His sacrifices and death for us we spiritually feed our souls.
It is hinted in Scripture that we should do this often. Some churches do it weekly but most only on first Sundays. One might, it seems, benefit from taking Communion every time our soul gets hungry or thirsty.
But taking Communion comes with a warning. Paul warns the Corinthians that receiving Communion in an unworthy manner is prostituting the institution.
The Corinthians were using the occasion as an excuse to feast.
And this was creating factions in the church, because it was being done with intentions opposite to those Christ originally had in mind. In doing this, many were unknowingly guilty of despising His body and His blood. This is what Paul meant when he said, “They eat and drink judgment to themselves.” (I Corinthians 11:29)
And this is why Paul also says, “That many among you are weak and sick and a number of you have fallen asleep.” Soul food is like regular food, not to be eaten lightly, because we can overeat, we can eat at the wrong times and we can eat in the wrong spirit. And the best food for the soul then makes us sick.
Therefore, if one is to eat food for the soul, one must first examine not the food but one’s inner-self. By not correctly discerning Christ in us, we put ourselves under judgment.
The point is that we must correctly judge ourselves and then we would not be judged by God. If we thoroughly search and explore our faults, not the faults of others, and condemn and correct what’s wrong, we can prevent God’s divine judgment on us.
Communion is the best food for the soul but it is holy and holy things must be used in a holy manner, lest they become profaned. If you want the best food for your soul, take the bread and eat it and, in the same manner, take the cup and drink from it.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org