Reconciliation and Holy Communion

Sts Peter and Paul

Preparing ourselves to receive Christ in Holy Communion requires us to bring peace to our own soul.   We may not be able to bring peace to the world, but we have an ability to bring peace to our selves, to our hearts.  In the following comment, St. John Chrysostom (d. 407AD) exhorts us to make ourselves be at peace with our fellow parishioners.   He speaks about one’s enemies, but it is obvious in what he writes that he is not talking about some distant, external  enemy of the nation.  He is referring to a friend, fellow parishioner, acquaintance, or someone you interact with on a personal level who has in some way offended you or caused you hurt.

“You are going to receive your king in communion. And when your king comes into your soul, it must be very tranquil and still. Your thoughts must be marked with the deepest peace. But you were treated most unjustly and you cannot bear to put aside your anger.

Why, then, do you do even greater wrong and more serious harm to yourself? Whatever your enemy may do to you, he will not treat you as badly as you treat yourself if you refuse to be reconciled to him and if you keep trampling underfoot the laws of God. Did your foe outrage you? Tell me, is that why you outrage God? To refuse to be reconciled to the enemy who has caused you pain is not the act of a man who is taking revenge on his foe. It is the act of a man who is outraging God, who gave us these laws.

Therefore, do not look back on the foe who is your fellow servant; do not look back on how deeply he has harmed you. Rather, put God before your mind and the fear of him which you should feel. Force yourself to be reconciled to the enemy whose countless evil acts have caused you pain. Then, consider that the greater the violence you will endure in your own soul, the greater will be the honor you will enjoy from God, who gave these commandments. Just as you receive him here with great honor, so will he receive you in heaven with great glory. He will give you an infinitely richer reward because you obeyed his laws. May all of you come to this reward by the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom be to the Father glory, honor, power, and worship, together with the Holy Spirit for ever and ever, world without end. Amen.” (On the Incomprehensible Nature of God, p 183)