Skip to comments.The Holy Qurbana of the Chaldean Catholic Church - "Take This, All of You"
Posted on 07/25/2009 4:14:43 PM PDT by NYer
“This is my body. … this is my blood of the covenant.” (Matthew 26:26-27)
As members of the Church, we hold the gift of Jesus in the Holy Qurbana to be the most central act of prayer and worship that we know.
The very young are brought to the liturgy of the Qurbana before they can understand its meaning. The very old find comfort and meaning in their lives by deepening their spirituality at the wellspring of the Lord’s banquet. From life’s beginning to its end and all times in between, believers of all ages and walks of life take part in the very sacrifice of Jesus.
The mission of Jesus, as the early Church came to understand it, was to bring forgiveness of sins to God’s people, in order that they might receive salvation and, one day, eternal life in his kingdom of light, happiness, and peace. Throughout his life and ministry Jesus brought that forgiveness, forging anew the relationship between sinners and God in a new, powerful way.
Jesus likened himself to a physician who heals the sick, not those who are well; he often said that he came for sinners, not for the self-righteous (Luke 5:31-32). He taught his followers to call God “Abba” – Father – as he himself did (Luke 11:2-4). He taught them a new way of living in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5) and a new way of loving, even one’s enemies: a new commandment of love (Luke 6:27-28, John 13:34-35).
All that Jesus did in his life leads him toward Jerusalem, toward the Cross. Every person he touched, every word he spoke, every prayer to the Father, every disease he cured, every sin he forgave: all these showed who Jesus is and what he came among us to do. And it all leads toward his passion, death, and resurrection. It all leads to the Holy Qurbana.
The word “Qurbana” itself comes from the Aramaic word meaning basically “to offer”. In the Qurbana we celebrate the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Through the Qurbana – which means the liturgy, the act of celebration, the banquet, as well as the species of the body and blood of Christ – we praise and thank the Father for the salvific acts of Jesus, and we are drawn further into the divine life of God.
It is important to understand the relationship between the gift of his body and blood that Jesus gave at the Last Supper and the outpouring of his life on the Cross. Theologically they are one and the same. Jesus who allowed his body to be broken and who poured out his blood on the Cross for the forgiveness of sins has made the Qurbana central to the life of the Christian people. The Qurbana is, to use ecumenical language, the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross in an un-bloody manner (Jesus died once and only once on the Cross; he has risen from the dead never to die again). At the liturgy, when we partake in the celebration and then receive the body and blood of Christ, the Last Supper and the Cross are made present to us again, so that we take part in those core acts of salvation, with Jesus, personally.
This is not to say that we are transported back in time to sit at the table or to stand beneath the foot of the Cross, as if we were whisked away in a time-machine possible only in science fiction. Yet when we worship God at the Holy Qurbana, when we hear the priest say the words of Jesus in the institution narrative and when he invites the Holy Spirit to dwell within the elements, when we eat his body and drink his blood, we do sit at the table with Jesus, we do stand beneath the foot of the Cross, we do share in the life of the Lord.
Jesus died once for all, so that all may share in the gift of life that he brings. It is that gift of his own life that Jesus shares with us when we receive the species of his body and blood.
Central to the Church’s teaching on the Qurbana is that the bread made of wheat and the wine of the grape used in the hollowing are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. They become substantially changed, no longer bread and wine but the body and blood of Christ. Through the action of Christ in the bishop or the priest who presides at the liturgy, the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross is made real and present to us, for Christ himself is really and truly present in what once was bread but is now his body, what once was wine but is now his blood.
The importance of this teaching cannot be overstated. We believe that the Jesus who was born in a humble stable, who grew up in a small town and learned the carpenter’s trade, who came out of the desert filled with the Holy Spirit and began to teach, to heal, and to proclaim a gospel of love, who suffered on the Cross, died for our sins, and rose from the dead, is real and present – body, blood, soul, and divinity – in the Holy Qurbana.
Explicitly stated in the gospels, where Jesus tells his disciples that unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood they do not have his life in them (John 6:53ff), and especially in his acts and words at the Last Supper, this teaching on the Holy Qurbana has been more deeply studied and understood throughout the Church’s long history.
No human mind can comprehend this mystery fully. Just as in Jesus’ time, so throughout history and today, some have rejected the reality of this supreme gift. For us, members of the Church who believe all that Jesus taught and did, the Holy Qurbana is the sign and source of the Church’s unity in Christ, our supreme act of worship to the God of life and love.
Quorbono is the Aramaic term used in the Maronite Catholic Church but it translates precisely to that of ALL the Churches in communion with Rome.
Wishing you all a truly blessed Sunday!