Is Intercommunion Truly Honest?
From Fr Francis Dufour SDB, Johannesburg – The intercommunion debate never seems to reach closure.
In my own family, with a staunch Presbyterian sister-in-law, a nothing-in-particular brother-in-law and a lapsed sister and her spouse, I experience the pain of the whole issue first-hand every time I go home to a family reunion during which I celebrate the Eucharist for my folks.
At the moment of Communion, we can really sense the reality of the separation. But that is also paradoxically where we grow most aware of the significance of COM-m-union.
And the reason for not leniently inviting all and sundry to receive is precisely that it would then diminish that significance. Like sex in marriage, eucharistic Communion is the ultimate act of bonding among believers. And it is not just a special moment of intimacy with Jesus, one on one, but a public act of faith that proclaims my commitment to and union with all others who are communicating.
So if I accept the invitation to receive Communion in another church where I am attending a service, then I am by this gesture stating that I am completely at one with all those also receiving in that church.But between our many Christian denominations, even though there are many convergences of faith, there are unfortunately still many areas of major disagreement.
And so to receive Communion together if we are not in-communion, is simply not being honest. Can we sweep all those differences under the carpet and pretend to be all one?
I believe we need to be careful not to reduce the Eucharist to a feel-good act meaning little more than a spiritual hug.
In eucharistic Communion, just as in becoming one flesh in marriage, there is one basic rule of thumb which can help us: The level of our intimacy should parallel the level of our commitment, and until our commitment is absolute, then neither should our intimacy be complete!