1 Corinthians 10:16

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
All Commentaries on 1 Corinthians 10:16 Go To 1 Corinthians 10

Cornelius a Lapide

AD 1637
The cup of blessing which we bless. (1.) That is the wine in the chalice which is blessed by the priest, and hence the chalice itself, containing this consecrated wine, does it not communicate to us the blood of Christ? (2.) It may be called the cup of blessing, because it blesses us and loads us with grace, as Anselm and Chrysostom say. (3.) More accurately, it is called "the cup of blessing," because Christ blessed it before consecration, i.e, called down the power of God to afterwards effect a change both in the bread and in the cup (S. Matt. xxvi26). 1. We see from the accounts of the Last Supper in S. Matthew 26:20-32., S. Luke 22:14-22, and here and in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 that Christ, before consecration of the Eucharist, gave thanks to God thee Father, and, as He was wont, lifted up his eyes to heaven, as is enjoined in the Roman Canon of the Mass and in the Liturgy of S. James. Hence this sacrament is called the Eucharist, or Thanksgiving, because it is the greatest act of grace, and consequently is to be received with the greatest thanksgiving. 2. Christ blessed the bead and wine, not, as heretics say, His Father. And so Paul says expressly, "The cup which we bless." Christ blessed the bread and the cup, i.e, invoked the blessing and power of God on the bread and wine, that it might be present, both then and at all future consecrations, to change the bread into the body, and the wine of the chalice into the blood of Christ, when ever the words of consecration should be duly pronounced. Of the same kind was the blessing of the bread in S. Luke ix16. This blessing, then, was not the consecration, though S. Thomas thinks that it was (pt. iii. qu78 , art. i. ad1). Hence in the Liturgies of S. James and S, Basil, and in the Roman, after Christ"s example, God is prayed to bless the gifts, that the Divine power may descend upon the bread and the cup to complete the consecration; and it is thence that we have "the cup of blessing," i.e, the cup blessed by Christ. Is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? 1. The communion, or communication, of the body and blood of Christ not only signifies that we receive the same body and the same blood of Christ, but also, as is said in ver17 , we become one body and one blood. Therefore, the sacrament is not a type of the blood, as Calvin thinks, but it is the very blood of Christ itself, and is given to us in the Eucharistic chalice. If I were to say, "I give you a golden one," you would rightly understand that I did not mean a painted one. If I were to invite you to dinner, and a feast on the hare or stag caught in the chase, and instead of the hare or stag were to put before you on a dish a picture of animals, should I not be acting ridiculously?—should I not hear myself called an impostor? Are not then the Protestants who transform the blood and flesh of Christ, which He declares that He gives, into a figure of that blood and flesh, acting ridiculously? Are they not making Christ an impostor? 2. If this cup is only a figure of the blood, as the Protestants think, then we have not more, but less, in the Eucharist than the Jews had in the manna and the water miraculously provided for their drink. The apostle, too, should have said that we eat the spiritual body and drink the spiritual blood of Christ, that is that which represents them, just as he said that the Jews ate the spiritual meat—the manna, and drank the spiritual drink—the water from the rock. But as a fact he contrasts the blood and the flesh of Christ in the Eucharist, as the reality and the thing signified, with the manna and water, as the figure and spiritual type, signifying the flesh and blood of Christ. Moreover, he calls the manna spiritual meat, i.e, typical, and the water, spiritual drink; but he calls the body of Christ in the Eucharist the body, and the blood the blood. Who, then, can doubt that, as the manna was truly a type and shadow, so in the Eucharist there is really the blood, flesh, and body of Christ? 3. Theodoret, Theophylact, Anselm, S. Thomas expressly explain this passage in this way. Theophylact says: "He does not say the "participation," but the "communion," because he wished to indicate something more excellent, viz, the closest possible union. What he really says is this: What is in the chalice flowed from the side of Christ; and when we receive it, we have communion with, or are united to Christ. Are you not then ashamed, O Corinthians, to have recourse to the cup of idols, and to leave this cup which sets us free from idols?" S. Chrysostom most plainly dwells on this thought (in Hom24 , Moral.), where, exhorting Christians to mutual charity through Holy Communion, he says: "If, then, dearly beloved, we understand these things, let us also strive to maintain unity among ourselves; for this dreadful and wonderful sacrifice leads us to this: it bids us approach one another with concord and perfect charity, and, like the eagles that Christians have been made in this life, let us fly to heaven itself, or rather above the heavens." And again a little further on he thus explains what the body of Christ in the Eucharist is like: "If no one would lightly lay hold of another man"s clothing, how can we receive with insults the pure and immaculate body of the Lord, which is a partaker of the Divine Nature, through which we are and live, which burst open the gated of hell and opened heaven? This is the body which was pierced by nails, scourged, unconquered by death; this is the body at the sight of which the sun hid his rays; through which the veil of the Temple was rent, and the rocks and the whole earth quaked; this is the body which was suffused with blood, pierced by the spear, and which poured forth streams of blood and water to regenerate the wwole world." And a little further on he says that the body of Christ in the Eucharist is the same as was in the manger: "This body in the manger the Magi adored, and with great fear and trembling worshipped. But thou seest Him not in a manger, but on the altar. It is not a woman holding Him in her arms that you see, but a priest is before you, and the spirit shed abundantly upon the sacrament spread forth. Let us, therefore, be stirred up and fear, and show greater devotion than ever those barbarians did." And after some other remarks he asserts mist clearly that in the Eucharist we touch and feed on God Himself, and receive from Him all good thing, saying: "This table is the strength of our soul, the vigour of our mind, the bond of mutual trust, our foundation, hope, and salvation, our light and our life, If we depart fortified by this sacrifice, we shall with the greatest confidence climb the sacred hill which leads to heaven"s gate. But why speak of the future? For even while we are here in this life, this mystery makes earth heaven: for the body of the King is set before our eyes, on earth, as it is in heaven. I show you, not angels or archangels, not heaven or the heaven of heavens, but the Lord of them all. Nor do you merely gaze on Him: you touch Him, you feed on Him: you receive not a child of Prayer of Manasseh , even though of kingly birth, but the Only-Begotten Son of God. Why, then, do you not shudder at such Presence, and cast away the love of all worldly things?" A new preacher of a new word of God has lately answered these words by saying that S. Chrysostom spoke rhetorically. But this evasion is as silly as futile; for S. Chrysostom Isaiah , I admit, an orator, but he is also a teacher of Christian truth. Hence in his commentary itself, he days that he is treating of the literal meaning of the Apostle. It is true that in the application of his sermon he does enlarge on that meaning, but not so as to exceed or to deny the truth, as, i.e, if he were to say that wood is stone, that a man is a brute, that bread is flesh; else he would not be an orator, but a lying impostor, and that in matters of faith. For an orator would be false and foolish who should say that the water of baptism was the very same blood of Christ that flowed from His side, when the Jews pierced His body with nails, and smote it with scourges; if he were to say that it was the God and Lord of all, he would no doubt mean that the water of baptism is a type of the blood of Christ, who applied it to us to wash away our sins. In the same way he is false and foolish who says that the bread and wine are the very blood, the very body of Christ, which was adored by the Magi in the manger, nailed to the Cross, scourged, and crucified by the Jews, nay, that it is the very Lord of all things, and the Only-Begotten Son of God, as S. Chrysostom says. I appeal to you, reader, to read these words of his candidly and impartially, or to say whether they are true of the manna, of the Paschal lamb, or of any such type. Would S. Chrysostom have spoken of them thus? Would Calvin, or Viretus, or Zwinglius, or any of their following, no matter how eloquent an orator he might be, speak of their supper in this way? If it is lawful t sublimate and invert the meanings of authors and the words of the Fathers in this way, it will be lawful to invert all faith, all history, all the opinions of these men, and to twist them to a totally different sense, all this will better appear in the following verses. The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? The sense Isaiah , The communication to us, or the eating of the bread which we break, communicates to us also the very body of Christ, so that each one actually partakes of it in the Eucharist. It may be said: The Eucharist is here called the bread, therefore it is not the flesh of Christ. I reply that bread, by a Hebraism, stands for any food ( 2 Kings 2:22). So Christ is called manna (S. John 6:31), and bread (Ibid. ci41). The reason is that bread is the common and necessary food of all. Moreover, S. Paul does not say "bread" simply, but "the bread which we break," i.e, the Eucharistic or transubstantiated bread, which is the body of Christ, and yet retains the species and power of bread. In this agree all the Fathers and orthodox doctors. Christ, on other occasions as well as in the Last Supper, is said to have broken and distributed the bread, according to the Hebrew custom by which the head of the house was wont to break the bread and divide the food among the guests sitting at table. For the Easterns did not have loaves shaped like ours, which need a knife to cut them up, but they used to make their bread into wide and thin cakes, as, amongst others, Stuckius has noticed (Convival. lib. ii. c3). Hence "to break bread" signifies in Scripture "to feast," and breaking bread signifies any feast, dinner, or meal. In the New Testament it is appropriated to the Eucharist; therefore "to break bread" is a sacramental and ecclesiastical term. Hence S. Paul calls here the Eucharist "the bread which we break," meaning the species of the body of Christ which we break and consume in the sacrament. See further on c. xi24.
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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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