Show This Bread to Be … 

Christ is risen! 

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And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.  (John 6:35) 

Jesus says He is the bread of life who cures hunger. In the Liturgy of St Basil (which the Orthodox use during Great Lent and on certain Feast Days), we pray that God will show the bread on the altar to be Christ’s Body. Show us what will take away our spiritual hunger and thirst. 

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… we pray you and call upon you, O Holy of Holies, that by the favor of your goodness your Holy Spirit may come upon us and upon these gifts now offered, to bless them, and to hallow and to show this bread to be truly the precious Body of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.  (Liturgy of St Basil; emphasis added) 

Showing the bread to be the Body of Christ has a different implication than the words of consecration in St John Chrysostom’s Liturgy in which we pray God to make the bread to be the Body of Christ. St Basil’s prayer asks God to reveal the Body of Christ to us in and through the bread. Orthodox theologian Elizabeth Theokritoff notes the same word ‘show’ also occurs in the prayers for the blessing of water. 

The verb in this prayer of St Basil’s (anadeixon) is the same one that he uses in his Eucharistic prayer for the consecration of the eucharistic elements: the root of the word in the verb ‘to show’ suggests a change of function rather than of nature. The water is not ‘turned into’ something unrelated to its God given nature. Rather, it is ‘promoted’ to doing the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctifying and giving life; this shows its most mundane functions in a new light.   (LIVING IN GOD’S CREATION, p 185) 

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Following Theokritoff’s theological point, we understand that in St Basil’s Liturgy we are not asking God to change the nature of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood, rather we are asking God to change its function so that it will not just be bread and water, but show us the Body of Christ in it. It is the eyes of our heart that we want God to open so that we can experience the transforming salvation which God is making available to us in Christ. We can personally participate in union with Christ through what God reveals to us. 

Indeed, He is risen! 

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