THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
You prepared a table for me in
the presence of my enemies; you anoint
my head with oil; my cup runs over.
Psalm 23. 5.
Full readings: Cycle A: 1 Samuel 16.1, 6-7, 10-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5. 8-14; John 9.1-41.
Cycle B: 2 Chronicles 36.14-16, 19-23; Psalm 136; Ephesians 2. 4-10; John 3.14-21.
Cycle C: Joshua 5. 9-12; Psalm 33; 2 Corinthians 5.17-21; Luke 15.1-3, 11-32.
This middle Sunday in Lent has many names: Laetare Sunday, Refreshment Sunday, and in England and Commonwealth countries also Mothering Sunday. Laetare Sunday comes from the opening word of the introit “Rejoice”. To denote this rejoicing and refreshing the celebrant wears rose coloured vestments (as he does on Gaudete Sunday in Advent). It was known as Refreshment Sunday in the old calendar as the Gospel for this Sunday was the feeding of the five thousand. On a green hillside in Palestine families were refreshed and nourished by bread as indeed we are at the Eucharistic banquet. Accordingly in the past the Church encouraged its people to refresh themselves on this middle Sunday in order to continue their rigid fasting for the rest of Lent and Holy Week. The man blind from birth in today’s Gospel certainly knew what it was to be renewed and refreshed as Christ gave him sight.
It is also a fitting day to be kept as Mothering Sunday when we remember our three mothers. The Church, our spiritual Mother refreshes us through the Blessed Sacrament, while our earthly mothers have refreshed us over and again, not just in feeding us but also by comforting and sustaining us in so many ways. Many will recall the times, for example, when Mother stayed with us in the night when we were ill or frightened by a dream or the dark. And of course our blessed Mother Mary who prays for us and who has set us the example of obedience to God and devotional love to her Son. So on this day we all have much to be thankful for as God has provided for us abundantly.
Returning to this Sunday being an interlude in our Lenten journey, it also should serve as a reminder of our entire life as a pilgrimage to the heavenly city. It is a long journey, fraught with many dangers, weariness, loneliness, uncertainties, and doubts. Yet it is not done alone. Our Lord bids us to stop awhile, to leave our bundle on the road side, and come and rest with Him “in a green pasture” by “the waters of comfort”.
He is “the good Shepherd” who will “feed His flock”, and gently “gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom” (Is. 40.11). When we are weary, from the pace some of us live to-day, how often do we express the sentiments of the Psalmist, “O that I had wings like a dove: for then would I flee away, and be at rest” (Ps.55.6). It is at such times that this image of Christ being a Shepherd who tenderly looks after us is so refreshing. To collapse into a chair as it were, and let God take over for a few minutes gives us strength to get up again and continue with work and life in general. Those few minutes resting in Him are as refreshing as the early morning dew on the grass. We are assured that “they who wait upon the Lord … renew their strength” (Is. 40.31).
I think we all need to rest in the Lord occasionally. In a city full of noise where we have spent a morning shopping, how refreshing it is to enter a church; it is a sanctuary of quietness, coolness and blessedness as we sit and rest away from it all. However being refreshed is not to be confused with or replace contemplation. It is essentially a harbour where we anchor for awhile to regain that vigour needed to press on again. “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will nourish you” (Ps. 55.22). We surrender our weariness and problems into His hands and relax knowing that God’s presence is soothing, and we shall get up refreshed enough to carry on.
The last office of the day, Compline, prays for this kind of rest during the night as we commend our being into His hands. One of the set Psalms tells us, “He will defend you under His wings, and you will be safe under His feather: His faithfulness and truth will be your shield and buckler” (Ps. 91.4). If we don’t say the entire Compline Office at the end of the day, many Christians will commend themselves into His care, and say one of the versicles of this Office, “Into your hands I commend my spirit”, and the canticle, Nunc Dimittis with its antiphon, “Save us while waking and guard us while sleeping, that awake we may be with Christ, and in sleep we take our rest.”
So this Refreshment and Mothering Sunday rest in our Lord by being refreshed by the Heavenly Food at the altar as well as our special celebrative meal with our dear mother and family, knowing that our blessed Mother is praying for us. Then we shall begin the second part of Lent with renewed vigour.
Dear Saviour, as You refreshed Your people of old by giving them manna, so sustain me with the Bread which comes down from heaven. Amen
MONDAY AFTER THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
Sing unto the Lord, O you saints.
Full readings: Isaiah 65. 17-21; Psalm 30. 2-6, 11-13; John 4. 43-54.
Today’s readings express joy, praise and thanksgiving for what God has done in healing the centurion’s son and the Israelites’ safeguard against the enemies and the hope that comes from both accounts.
Praising God I think is the easiest form of praying as our world is a glorious manifestation of God’s beauty, grandeur, purity and loveliness. The Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, captured this in the opening lines of these two sonnets:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Glory be to God for dappled things-
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pierced-fold, fallow, and plough; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
When we behold the created in all its splendour, how more splendid must be the Creator. The summit of all creation must be the heavenly Jerusalem to which our earthly pilgrimage is leading us. Here beholding this beatific vision are already the whole hosts of angels - “seraphs, cherbubim and thrones, ... dominions, princedoms, powers, virtues, archangels, [and] angels” who sing their praises unceasingly. We mortals here on earth are bidden to take up the angels’ hymn of praise, so His glory can echo in every part of the world.
So each day we praise God for His creation all around us, “O Lord, how manifold are your works: in wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your riches” (Ps.104.24). In springtime this is not too difficult to do. And it is not too difficult either when our eyes behold the Grand Canyon for the first time or Cappadocian fairy chimneys or the Jungfrau peak in the Swiss Alps. Yet it is for the ordinary things of life, the everyday things we take almost for granted that we also have to be able to offer up our praises to God. Hence we should praise Him for the new day and the opportunities it will bring. If we think the day is going to be difficult recall our blessings. We have a voice to praise Him, a heart to lift up to Him and hands to reach out to Him. Whenever we want to complain, think what we do have rather than what we do not have and praise our Creator for those good things daily. That turns our minds outward, away from self and enables us to get life in the right perspective again.
One of the reasons I like using the Psalms as a source of meditation is that the Psalter bubbles over with such outburst as this last verse of Psalm 103, “O speak good of the Lord, all you works of His, in all places of His dominion: praise you the Lord, O my soul.” The Psalter in forming a dominant part of the Daily Offices remind and help us in our daily praises to God as the canticles do too, for these are essentially songs of praise. The glorious words of the Te Deum, or the Magnificat should never be far from our lips.
I cannot think of a better way to conclude but in the words of that gentle Caroline Divine, George Herbert who in his own life lived a life of praise, and through his poetry has enabled us to share in His praising God.
Seven whole days, not one in seven,
I will praise Thee:
In my heart, though not in heaven,
I can raise Thee. ...
Small it is, in this poor sort
To enrol Thee:
E’en eternity’s too short
To extol Thee.
O blessed Saviour, let everything within me praise Your holy name and especially as I greet each new day. “Praise the Lord, O my soul; while I live will I praise the Lord: yes, as long as I have any being, I will sing praises unto my God” (Ps. 146.1-2). Amen.
TUESDAY AFTER THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
‘Will you be made whole?’
John 5. 6.
Full readings: Ezekiel 47. 1-9, 12; Psalm 46. 2-9; John 5.1-3, 5-16.
It has always puzzled me why this paralytic man who lay near the pool of Bethzatha for those thirty-eight years never cried out for someone to help him into the stirring water. On the other side of the coin he was completely ignored by others who came to the pool. When Christ neared the pool the paralytic learnt he did not need this water but only Christ Himself.
It would seem he never prayed to God for strength or courage either, what we call petitionary prayer, that is, when we pray for our own needs. Just as thanksgiving and praise are closely bound, so are petitionary and intercessory prayers. We perceive that God knows our petitions before we pray them, but nevertheless He wants to hear our asking for them. “Lord, I call upon you, haste you unto me: and consider my voice when I cry unto you” (Ps.141.1).
Our petitions form part of our Morning Prayer as we place our various needs and circumstances for that day before God. These include asking for divine grace to know His will and strength to do it. If we are having any special problems at work or home we ask God especially for His gifts of love, peace and healing so that we can endeavour to improve these situations. Then there are those days when we have to venture into the unknown, and we feel a little scared of the uncertainty so we pray for courage and trust.
However we should not bombard God with our petitions. Petitionary prayers, like our intercessory ones, once offered to God in the morning, should be left with Him. This does not include of course those unknown situations which arise doing the course of any day. In these circumstances we should turn to God immediately and seek His help. We do this by offering up an arrow prayers, often very simply expressed, “Help me here dear Lord.” As Christians we do have to believe that “all things work together for good to them who love God” (Rom. 8.28).
When we are taught about prayer in our Confirmation class we are invariably told that petitionary prayer comes last; and when our fingers represent each type of prayer, our little finger represents this kind. Just as in our everyday living, God and others are more important than ourselves, so in prayer. Indeed if we have petitionary prayer in its right perspective, it should help us to overcome our selfish nature, and to look outward rather than inwards.
Petitionary prayers are also interwoven with the Church’s fasts and feasts. For example at Pentecost we pray for the Spirit to possess us so that we radiate His goodness in all we do or think or say. At this time too we pray for the fruits of the Spirit such as love, peace, patience, long-suffering, compassion and tolerance. During this season of Lent we pray to use this special time to draw closer to our blessed Saviour so that we may more easily follow our Lord to Jerusalem, and enter into His passion.
Lent is a valuable time to use petitionary prayer to subdue our wills to His, so that it is He who is living and speaking through us. “O sacred heart of Jesus, I offer you my life” is the perfect prayer for each day.
Dear God help me to pray for what I need for my daily living but above all give me sufficient grace to be the person You want me to be. Amen.
WEDNESDAY AFTER THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
Sing O heavens: and be joyful.
Full readings: Isaiah 49. 8-15; Psalm 145. 8-18; John 5. 17-30.
Basking in the sunlight of God’s love and soaking up His infinite bounties of grace and goodness as well as being surrounded by the beauties of His creation, cannot but fill one with tremendous joy and praise. “I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will praise my God while I have my being” (Ps.104.33). A crisp, white morning with the frost sparkling in the sunshine and an exquisite sunset are just two examples that bring a joyful response.
Perhaps Farindon had Isaiah’s reading for today in mind when he preached, “If love be as the sun, joy and delight are the beams which stream forth from it. If love be as the voice, joy is the echo; for joy is but love in the reflection.” When I recall my happy days in Oxford there were many times I would cycle back to my flat, especially on Sundays or Feasts days after a glorious High Mass, just brimming over with delight and joy from experiencing the worshipping of God in the beauty of holiness.
Worship is indeed a time to be full of joy. Andrewes saw each major festival as expressing this. For example, Christmas “is news of joy”, Good Friday is “the joy of our salvation” and Easter is the day of “joyful tidings”. As God has done something special for us on each Christian festival our joy should abound in recognition of His birth, death and resurrection. Therefore for those who are thankful for Our Lord becoming man, dying and rising for our salvation, “there is no joy in the world to the joy of a man saved; no joy so great, no news so welcome, as to one ready to perish, in case of a lost man, to hear of one [who] save him.” Indeed when the priest says to the penitent, “Go in peace, the Lord has taken away your sins”, there is always an overwhelming joy. Being released from anything is always an occasion of joy, but most especially from sin.
When we are over brimming with joy we experience something of the angelic delight in heaven where they sing their praises unceasingly to their Creator. As the angelic hosts always surround the altar at every Eucharist, we join them in their unending praise, especially at the Sanctus. We can share their joy too when we approach the altar to receive our dear Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Indeed our attitude towards attending the Sunday Eucharist should be like that of the Jews as they ascended the temple singing the Psalm, “I was glad when they said to me: We will go into the house of the Lord.”
Thus every Sunday is a special day of joy, as we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, evident in this sermon of another Caroline Divine, John Cosin. “This ... joy is so expedient and natural for a festival solemnity that without it, it seems no feast at all.” Sunday is indeed a day of “joy and cheerfulness.”
Of course every day brings its own joy if we but choose it - a new day with its fresh opportunities to give, to share or to make progress in work or relationship. There are also the unexpected joys of little things such as receiving a letter from our family, or a telephone call from a friend we have not heard from for ages, or the warmth exchanged in greetings while walking the dog or going for a run in the park, or somebody being very kind to us when out shopping.
But perhaps our greatest joy is when we do things consciously or even unconsciously for our dear Lord. There are so many ways we can do this, ranging from an act of self-denial to visiting the lonely person down the road or the homebound. We cannot read the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel without being conscious of the various ways we minister to Christ. Perhaps like the saints of old we are not called upon to die joyfully the martyr’s death, but every time we say “no” to self and “yes” to Him, it is a victory for Christ.
For Christians there is also the joy of expectancy, of waiting for that glorious moment when we shall at last see Him. Then Our Lord Jesus will reveal to us all the joys of heaven. That joy will be almost indescribable, as expressed here by Charles Wesley.
Those dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears,
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers:
With what rapture
Gaze we on those glorious scars.
Being joyful in our worship, faith, attitude and work starves inertia and disappointment. Without joy our souls will wither, like a dried-up carrot left forgotten in a refrigerator. Let joy be part of your life this Lent.
Dear Lord, let each day be an occasion to rejoice and be glad as it brings its own newness, beauty and hope. Fill me with such holy joy that even in my darkest and dreariest moments that sense of joy may always flicker within me. Amen.
THURSDAY AFTER THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
The Lord said unto Moses, ‘Go, get you down:
for your people, whom you brought out of the
land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.’
Exodus 32. 7.
Full readings: Exodus 32. 7-14; Psalm 106. 19-23; John 5. 31- 47.
Both the Old and New Testament readings today reveal how little remorse the Israelites had in breaking the Commandments given to them by Yahweh at Mt. Sinai, so soon after their release from slavery in Egypt. Years later in the time of Our Lord they were still refusing Moses’ teaching.
The closer we try to live with God and let Him work through us the more conscience we become of what our sinning does to His Son. We truly realize that sin grieves His sacred heart very much, that heart which broke at Golgotha as He bore the sin of mankind. In such contemplation our hearts respond to the despicableness of our sins. In our wretchedness we cry out from the depth of our being:
Cease not, wet eyes,
His mercies to entreat.
See my sin, but through my tears.
This is what the Fathers called the sacrament of lachrymæ. We weep for our sins; we groan for them; we mourn for them. We know we deserve only the everlasting flames of hell because of them. In a sense our wretchedness is made worse because we realize that God’s mercy is such that He has forgiven us almost before we confess our sins. He is ever awaiting us with outstretched loving arms. No wonder hot, bitter tears drop, drop when we ponder our sins. Like Peter, the impact of sin makes us weep bitterly.
Remorse is also part of our spiritual growth as witnessed by many of the saints who saw this as being instrumental in their growing awareness and closeness to God. However it is a feature of our Christian life, if it grows out of proportion to other aspects, it makes us gloomy and morbid Christians. That I do not think we are meant to be. We are also called to be joyful people as we saw yesterday, but yet we cannot feel real joy without knowing remorse.
Yet Lent is a good time to feel emotionally the depth of the wrongness of sin, if we never have experienced it before. If we cannot be moved within ourselves, may I suggest we kneel in front of a crucifix and gaze and gaze on it, and in the silence let every aspect of our Lord’s agony penetrate our souls. You will respond to such Love as illustrated in this Good Friday sermon of Andrewes.
It was the sin of our polluted hands that pierced His hands, the swiftness of our feet to do evil that nailed His feet, the wicked devices of our heads that gored His head, and the wretched desires of our hearts that pierced His heart. …
Look upon Him and pierce; and pierce that in you, that was the cause of Christ’s piercing; that is sin and the lusts thereof. ... Look and be pierced with love of Him, who so loved you, that He gave Himself in this sort to be pierced for you. ... Look upon Him, and His heart opened, and from that gate of hope promise yourself, and look for all manner of things that good are: ... the deliverance from the evil of our present misery ... [and] the restoring to the good of our primitive felicity. ... Look and look for; by the Lamb who is pierced to be freed from all misery, by the High Priest who is pierced fruition of all felicity. ... Look back upon it with some pain; for one way or other, look upon it we must.
So this Lent let the cross pierce our very being so we respond positively to it.
Heavenly Father I offend you every time I sin. Let me mourn for my sins that caused Your Son’s death, and with Your grace to amend my life once I have confessed them. Amen.
FRIDAY AFTER THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
Let us condemn him with a shameful death:
for by his own saying he will be respected.
Wisdom 2. 20.
Full readings: Wisdom 2.1, 12-22; Psalm 34. 16-23; John 7.1-2, 10, 25-30.
The first reading today predicts the kind of death Christ would endure, while in the second John makes clear Christ’s death would be His hour of glory as He accomplished the will of the Father. His dying thus took the sting out of death, the punishment for Adam’s sin as Paul outlined in 1 Corinthians (15.55).
Christians no longer have to fear death thanks to Christ. It is the gateway to a better life, an eternal life and therefore we should live each day as if it were our last in preparation for it. This means we strive to live in a state of grace, and have made adequate arrangements about our earthly ties so as not to give any more burdens to our families. We should be as considerate in death as in life.
Death as the gateway to that fuller and richer life will lead us to our celestial home where we shall behold the beatific vision, and in spontaneous response fall down and worship our blessed Lord. Seen in the Christian light, death is a joyful occasion and therefore there is nothing morbid or hush-hush about it. As the saintly Bishop Ken wrote, “Teach me to live, that I may dread/ The grave as little as my bed.”
Sadly though, many people, even Christians have a fear of death, one could say almost a repulsion of it these days. This is evident so clearly in our hospitals when people are kept alive on machines, just to starve off death. The days are rapidly disappearing when our loved ones die at home surrounded by priest and family. As a result most people do not want to ponder about dying, but if they would, they would see death not as an end but a welcome to a better life. The beloved Son has assured us of this with these words, “I go to prepare a place for you, ... that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn 14.2). Then we are always ready to die, and we do not have to behave like an ostrich with its head in the sand.
In the midst of life is death, and we all have experienced the sudden death of someone close to us whether by accident or illness. We too may die like that, and that is why in one of the petitions in the Church’s Litany we pray that we may be delivered from “sudden death”. It is comforting to think of death coming to us after our “three score years and ten” and being able to live each day preparing for it, in the security that “Love [bids] me welcome”. But often it is not like that as Our Lord assured us that “we do not know the time or the hour.” Therefore we must make sure that we don’t make the same mistake as the rich man did who spent his time on building bigger and better buildings so he could live more comfortably without any thought for his soul. Our Lord’s teaching in this parable is sobering, “You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you” (Lk.12.20). As the late Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh reminds us, “It is only if we face death, make sense of it, determine its place and our place in regard to it, that we will be able to live in a fearless way and to the fullness of our ability.”
Physical death is a deliverance - a deliverance from our continual strivings to conquer sin, and being released into the nearer presence of God. Donne certainly saw death as a deliverance when he stated, “This exitus mortis, the issue of death, is liberatio in morti, a deliverance in death; not that God will deliver us from dying but that He will have a care of us in the hour of death, of what kind soever our passage be.” Our deliverance from death is achieved:
First, as the God of power, the Almighty Father rescues His servants from the jaws of death: And then as the God of mercy, the glorious Son rescued us, by taking upon Himself the issue of death: And then between the two, as the God of Comfort, the Holy Spirit rescues us from all discomfort by His blessed impressions before hand.
Donne assures us however we die, death itself will “be an entrance into everlasting life.” This is the hope through all “our deaths and deadly calamities of this life, ... [in] all our periods and transitions in this life.”
As well as our physical death, there is also the spiritual to consider during Lent. This is being cut off from God when we perpetually live in sin and do nothing about it. However for Christians life is a series of deaths and risings. We sin but when we are truly penitent we are restored to a life of grace. Furthermore every time we say “no” to self and “yes” to Him we have triumphed over death and grow in holiness. Hence we either die to sin or sin deadens us. There is no other alternative.
During this Lent let us live so that like St. Francis we are always ready to welcome death as our dear sister: “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Bodily Death, from whom no living man can escape.”
By Your passion and resurrection O Lord, death has no more dominion over us. Help me to live each day as if it were my last in preparation for the fuller life in Your nearer presence. Amen.
SATURDAY AFTER THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
Many of the people therefore, when they heard this
saying, said, Of a truth this is the prophet.’
John 7. 40.
Full readings: Jeremiah 11. 18-20; Psalm 8.2-3, 9-12; John 7. 40 - 53.
The above proclamation was made on the last day of the feast of Tabernacles after our Lord had declared, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.” In John’s Gospel Christ’s appearing at this festival followed after the feeding of the Five Thousand and His discourse on being the Bread of Heaven. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he will live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (Jn 6.51).
One of the advantages of being a Catholic Christian is that we have plenty of opportunities of visiting Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and spending time with Him in this special way. One of the resolutions we make for Lent is to do this more often and attend more often daily Mass. Countless numbers of Christians reverently receive Him under the veil of Bread and Wine each day. For them it is the summit of everything done that day as they reach out with outstretched hands to receive Him. This is the most wonderful way to be assured of Christ within us. As we sing most joyously in the Corpus Christi procession or sometimes after Benediction:
Blessed and praised be Jesus Christ
In the most holy Sacrament.
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest!
Oh, what joy at that moment when we receive the Sacrament and we wish that moment would linger. John Evelyn of Wotten, writing during the seventeenth century when the English liturgy was forbidden to be celebrated by Parliament, captures something of this moment. “For [it] is certain, that the most precious moments of our lives are those which immediately precede or succeed the participation of the Holy Eucharist. For before, we strive to fit and prepare ourselves to receive our Lord, and afterwards to keep possession of Him.” A contemporary of Evelyn, Cosin, once said if we only realized we were receiving our Lord at the altar rails, we would run to it. Oh, Lord, let me run so that I may “ever adore You in the most holy Sacrament of the altar.”
We are never as close to Christ as we are at that moment “when we have newly taken the holy Sacrament of His blessed Body and most precious Blood - when we come fresh from it,” Andrewes assured us. His closeness is what every earnest Christian desires. We do not want to be parted from Him, and in our better moments we wish to be with Him for ever. We want to say as Kronstadt of modern times stated, “Oh perfect love! Oh all-embracing love! Oh strongest love! What shall we give God in gratitude for this love?” That is why Benediction is so appealing and devotional to so many Christians. We want continually to “taste and see how glorious the Lord is”, and stay in “our true native land”. Our preparation and thanksgiving become even more important.
In our preparation, “Just as the watchman waits for the morning, so I wait for You O Lord”, and “My soul thirsts for God, even for the living God” become powerful words from the Psalms. Yes, Lord I do wait upon You, and I do thirst after You. After all to whom should I go, You have the words of eternal life? As equally important is our thanksgiving after receiving the Blessed Sacrament. How can we ever thank God enough for what He gives us each day? We cannot. But we can try and let Christ shine through after we leave the church as an expression of our gratitude. After all, as already mentioned elsewhere He has no other feet or hands or even heart to do His work except ours.
Another wonderful aspect of being present at the daily Eucharist is that we know at that moment we are united with our fellow Christians throughout the world. We are all part of the Body of Christ, the Christian community, and for those of us who live a long distance from our families, the moment of Communion bond us with our loved ones. Moreover it makes us more aware of the brotherhood of mankind. As we are all God’s children, and one in Christ, it should help us to not only to pray for all our brothers and sisters but also to work against the various injustices inflicted on many. In the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great this unity in Christ as brothers is emphasized in this prayer.
O God our heavenly Father, we pray Thee to unite us all who partake of the one Bread and of the Chalice, to one another in the Communion of Thy One Holy Spirit; and may none of us, who receive the Holy Body and Blood of your Christ, receive Them to our judgment or our condemnation; but may we all find mercy and grace with all the Saints who have ever pleased You, and with every righteous soul made perfect in the Faith. Amen.
What more could our blessed Lord do to encourage us to His Banquet than what He has done in teaching us that He is the Bread of Life; He is Life itself! Thus:
He bids us come without money and without price to the waters of life: He came Himself to seek the lost sheep and bear it on His shoulders. Not satisfied with all this, He sends His Ambassadors to assure us of our peace, no, to entreat us to be reconciled, and His servants sweetly to compel even the most miserably indigent to come in, that His Table may be furnished with guests. O inexhaustible Treasure, never failing Source; Banquet of Love, where the hungry soul is treated with the Bread of Angels and the Manna which descends from heaven. How, O how should we not thirst after these cooling streams and languish after this precious Food.
Let us this Lent thirst after this living Water and heavenly Bread.
O dearest Lord, let me always be thankful for receiving Your life in the Blessed Sacrament and then sharing that life with others. Amen.