I plan on expanding this into something more substantial sooner rather than later. But for anyone curious about the content of my lecture in the international course on diakonia a couple of weekends ago, here’s the outline from which I spoke. The Ephrem hymn enumerates examples from the natural world of suffering on behalf of others, and suffering that leads to good. Since for Ephrem both the scriptures and the world are treasurehouses of symbols of God’s lovingkindness towards us in Christ, this hymn attempts to express the reality of suffering inscribed in the world as symbols of Christ’s redemptive suffering. However, we would need to spend a lot of time unpacking how this hymn might, if at all, speak to people who are suffering today because of war, violence, strife, famine, and injustice. It can be found in the collection of Kathleen McVey’s translations of a selection of Ephrem’s hymns in The Classics of Western Spirituality series.

Taste of Hope, Bread for the Journey: Eucharist and the Suffering World

  1. Eucharist and suffering: liminality, transition, Body of Christ, church

St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 272, On the Eucharist:

So now, if you want to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle Paul speaking to the faithful: “You are the body of Christ, member for member.” [1 Cor. 12.27] If you, therefore, are Christ’s body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord’s table! It is your own mystery that you are receiving! You are saying “Amen” to what you are: your response is a personal signature, affirming your faith. When you hear “The body of Christ”, you reply “Amen.” Be a member of Christ’s body, then, so that your “Amen” may ring true! (http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/public/augustine_sermon_272_eucharist.htm

1. Taste of Hope: and see that the Lord is good: Psalm 34 and Eucharist

2. Bread for the journey: manna from heaven: John 6

3. Eucharist and prophecy: eschatology, symbols of power, carnival: Mark 11:42-45, Luke 22:24-30, John 13:1-20

 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:15 NRSV)

4. Postscript: St. Ephrem of Syria, Hymns on Virginity and on the Symbols of the Lord 11 (McVey, 307-309)