Fall 1964

Page 45

Fe/IQwship

157

evident that the sharers in a cultic meal are the partners of God. The altar of sacrifice contains and yet hides the presence of God. Anyone who joins in false worship associates himself with a false god. So for Paul the Christian meal expresses fellowship with the Person of Christ inasmuch as it is a participation "in Christ's blood" and "in Christ's body" (1 Cor 10:16). Bread and wine are the bearers of the heavenly Christ, who is identical with the incarnate, historical One. We Christians who are nour路 ished with the Bread and Wine are "one body, though we are many in number; the same bread is shared by all" (1 Cor. 10: 17). Fellowship therefore connotes an inner bond among us, a charity and unity deriving from the Sacrament. Christian fellowship, in its broader dimensions, is extended by Paul beyond the Person of Christ to the individual phases of his life. Once we have died with Christ, that is, died the death of the old man of sin, "we have faith to believe that we shall share his life" (Rom 6:8). Our time-space situation is synchronized as it were with that of Christ, and beyond it lie the infinite stretches of eternity. Paul enumerates only the main salvific events that coincide with ours. They are, to begin with, life itself, and then suffering and glory, endurance and reign, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection, enthronement, glory ( cf. Rom 6:4, 6:6, 6:8, 8:17; Eph 2:6; 2 Tim 2:12, among others). The share with Christ is such that although his work of salvation is sufficient it places us under obligation to our fellowmen (cf. Col 1 :24). Hence Paul could write to the Corinthians, "Partners of our suf路 ferings, you will be partners of our encouragement too" (2 Cor

1 :7). Life in and with Christ is characterized, as his was, "by com路 mon fellowship in the spirit" (Phil 2:1). Every one is "in the spirit" who en joys "the imparting of the Holy Spirit" ( 2 Cor 13:13). To draw up the full circle of fellowship in Pauline theology, we must see him begin it with the saints below and spiral it up to the saints above. The lines of the circle seem to run both verti路 cally and horizontally. We read in his letter to the Ephesians: "You are no longer exiles, then, or aliens; the saints are your fellow-citizens, you belong to God's household" (2:19). Paul is