Friday, May 2, 2014

"City of God" X.6-8

Chapter 6:
For Christians in the post-New Testament era, we find that "sacrifice" which we perform is the giving of ourselves up to God through the blood of Christ and the for our own happiness and the good of our neighbor.
Even more, as a whole the body of Christian believers--"the whole of that redeemed city, that is, the congregation or communion of saints" is itself a sacrifice--"offered as a universal sacrifice to God through the High Priest who, 'taking the form of a servant,' offered Himself in His passion for us that we might be the body of so glorious a Head." This unity as a sacrifice is what we commemorate in Communion, "in which it is clear to the Church that she herself is offered in the very offering she makes to God."

I'll confess, I'm not sure exactly what to do with this view of communion. I think it's true, but I also think it needs clarification. That is, we should see in communion a reminder of the unity of the body of believers around the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But the point is that at the end of the day, communion is primarily a picture of Christ, not of the church.
Of course, the follow-up point to that is that Christ has so joined Himself to the church that Scripture uses the language of one body with Jesus as the Head and us as the body, so maybe we're back to Augustine's phrasing after all...

Chapter 7-8:
Again, the point of all this is that we should worship God alone, and no other creature in all of creation.
The immortal and blessed spirits who are deservedly established in heavenly abodes and rejoice in communion with their Creator are rooted in His eternity, certain in His truth, and sanctified by His grace. In their compassion they love us unhappy mortals and long for us to become both immortal and happy, and, therefore, they do not wish us to offer sacrifice to them but to God, knowing as they do that, along with us, they are his sacrifice.
So much for the Platonists, or for anyone who would distract us with devotion to any other being. If we need proof, we need only look to the pages of Scripture where sign after miraculous sign confirms the great truth that God alone is to be praised.

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