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2014-05-18 message

posted May 22, 2014, 1:06 PM by St. John's Webmaster   [ updated May 22, 2014, 1:07 PM ]

A few days ago, on the feast of St. John the Theologian, I commented on how the work koinonia is mistranslated, from a theological perspective, as fellowship. For us, as Orthodox, the only appropriate translation is that of ‘communion,’ a much stronger and much more binding concept. If we look at the Paschal canon again, we can see how this understanding of communion affects our prayer and our hymnology.

In the third ode of the canon, we sing: Buried with You yesterday, O Christ, with You now resurrected I also rise today. Yesterday I was with You crucified. O Savior, with yourself glorify me in Your rule. We cannot be buried with Christ if all we have is fellowship with Him. Indeed, we can only do that if He is in us and we in Him.

Further on, in the oikos, we read: Let us go, let us hurry like the Magi, and adore Him, and offer the ointments, as if gifts, to Him who is wrapped, not in swaddling but grave clothes. And let us weep and cry out, 'Arise, O Master, who to the fallen grant resurrection. Once again, in order to offer ointments to Christ as He was wrapped in grave clothes, we have to be in more than fellowship with those who were present at the Cross; we have to be in communion with them.

Finally, in ode 8 of the canon, we sing: Come, on this illustrious day of Resurrection and day of Christ's Kingdom, let us receive the communion of the joy divine from the new fruit of the vine, for eternal life, and highly extol Him as God unto the ages. This is quite an explicit reminder of the bond, the interpenetration of human persons with one another and with the tri-personal God. May God make us worthy of that indescribable communion with Him and may we always grow in our communion with one another.

With love in Christ,
+Fr. Peter