The Holy Eucharist and hearing the voice of God – Isaiah 6:1-12

2nd Week of Great Lent – Thursday. The Sixth Hour

And it came to pass in the year in which king Ozias died, [that] I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, and the house was full of his glory. 2. And seraphs stood round about him: each one had six wings: and with two they covered [their] face, and with two they covered [their] feet, and with two they flew. 3. And one cried to the other, and they said, Holy, holy, holy [is the] Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4. And the lintel shook at the voice they uttered, and the house was filled with smoke.5. And I said, Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart; for being a man, and having unclean lips, and I have seen with mine eyes the King, the Lord of hosts. 6. And there was sent to me one of the seraphs, and he had in his hand, a coal, which he had taken off the altar with the tongs: 7 . and he touched my mouth, and said, Behold, this has touched thy lips, and will take away thine iniquities, and will purge off thy sins. Isaiah 6:1-7

 


Most people have heard or read this passage from Isaiah and understand that it refers to the Holy Mysteries. It is a prophesy of what was to come – after the incarnation of the God-man Jesus Christ, we would be fed with the bread which came down from heaven – the holy Eucharist.

 

The priest repeats some of these words when he communes every person:

 

“Behold this hath touched thy lips, and taketh away all thine iniquities and purgeth all thy sins”

 

As in all of Holy Scripture, true understanding is in the details. Those who have “ears to hear” listen closely, and perceive all shades of meaning. Those who do not have such ears are those whom the Lord orders Isaiah to give the message:

 

"Go, and say to this people. 9. Ye shall hear indeed, but ye shall not understand; and ye shall see indeed, but ye shall not perceive. 10. For the heart of this people has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” Isaiah 6:9-10

 

There is a stark contrast presented here. Isaiah is healed by the holy coal which touches his lips because of his faith. See how he thinks of himself:

 

“And I said, Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart; for being a man, and having unclean lips, and I have seen with mine eyes the King, the Lord of hosts.”

 

Such a man God will heal. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”, and the greatest grace is given by the Holy Eucharist.

 

How can we know the holy prophet was truly humble? After all, words are easy to say.

 

We must not receive the grace of God in vain. The partaking of communion must initiate ACTION in us. The voice of God will also be present for us. Isaiah not only has words, he has actions. Will we hear God as Isaiah did?

 

“And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go to this people? And I said, behold, I am [here], send me.” Isaiah 6:8


Why do we live such mediocre lives? Why do we confess the same sins over and over? Why is there so little change in our lives? Let us look at ourselves carefully: are we hearing the voice of God? Are we saying to God as Isaiah: “I am here, send me?”

 

There are two ways of living – one leads to life and one leads to death. There are two ways of communing the Holy Mysteries. Isaiah shows us one, and the people he preaches to shows us the other. May we live in such a way that every time we commune, not just the priest, but the Lord says to us:

 

Behold, this has touched thy lips, and will take away thine iniquities, and will purge off thy sins.

 

———-

Is 6:1-12 And it came to pass in the year in which king Ozias died, [that] I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, and the house was full of his glory. 2. And seraphs stood round about him: each one had six wings: and with two they covered [their] face, and with two they covered [their] feet, and with two they flew. 3. And one cried to the other, and they said, Holy, holy, holy [is the] Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 . And the lintel shook at the voice they uttered, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 . And I said, Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart; for being a man, and having unclean lips, and I have seen with mine eyes the King, the Lord of hosts. 6. And there was sent to me one of the seraphs, and he had in his hand, a coal, which he had taken off the altar with the tongs: 7. and he touched my mouth, and said, Behold, this has touched thy lips, and will take away thine iniquities, and will purge off thy sins. 8. And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go to this people? And I said, behold, I am [here], send me. And he said, Go, and say to this people. 9 . Ye shall hear indeed, but ye shall not understand; and ye shall see indeed, but ye shall not perceive. 10. For the heart of this people has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 11 . And I said, How long O Lord? And he said, Until cities be deserted by reason of their not being inhabited, and the houses by reason of there being no men, and the land shall be left desolate. 12. And after this God shall remove the men far off, and they that are left upon the land shall be multiplied. (Great Lent, the Second week, Thursday, At the Sixth Hour)

 

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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3 Responses to “The Holy Eucharist and hearing the voice of God – Isaiah 6:1-12”

  1. Deborah says:

    Father, Bless,

    Thank you, Father.  Now that I know the context of the words, "Behold, this has touched thy lips…."  it will give them new meaning and potency when I hear them.
        This is the question that has troubled me: Will we, should we, ever, in this life, cease to confess the same sins over and over again?  I know we should be making progress, changing, growing.  But my experience has been that the more I confess, the more I see that I need to confess.  This has, at times, been disconcerting and discouraging—like my housework.  The more I clean, the more I find that needs cleaning. (i.e. I have to uncover the clutter on the counters to discover how dirty they are underneath.)
     
        The only peace I have found in this dilemma has come from the metaphor of the body–that as long as I live I will have to eat food to live and eliminate the toxins and wastes.  I understand that if I am doing the same thing over and over again, something needs to change (Insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time.) But I find that when I am rid of one expression of pride, lust, fear, etc…it simply morphs and appears in another form in some other area of my life. So I continue to confess the same sins over and over–and it seems that I am in for a lifetime job of chasing after these sins to seek them out, find and destroy them.
    "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
    But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
    O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
    " Romans 7:22-24
    and

    "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 7:25 (or rather, I should) every time I receive His precious Body and Blood.

  2. Deborah says:

    Just wanted to add that the mystery to me is that these words were written by blessed St. Paul and they, along with his declaration, "I am the chief of sinners" are written in the present tense, seeming to indicate that he was still struggling in, and sometimes even losing, battles against sin ("For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do".Romans 7:19 )   I also once read a story of the death of a very holy monk.  Even as his brothers saw the glow of uncreated light appear around his dying body, he prayed to the Lord for more time to repent of his sins.
     
    So it has made me wonder:  Are even holy saints ever truly entirely rid of their sins in this lifetime–or is that they simply have peace and power in the process of being continually rid of them?

  3. Isaiah 6 says:

    The Isaiah Institute Translation of verse 7 points even more directly to Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice for our sins:
    "Touching it to my mouth, he said, See, this has touched your lips: your sins are taken away, your transgressions atoned for." 

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