Your definition of “participation” is partial at best.
“Participation” in this context and in the ordinary sense of the word indicates action as well as association.
The action being described by Paul is actual, not figurative. The early Christians actually drank from a Cup and actually broke bread. Likewise, the Israelites actually ate the sacrifices offered on the altar. And historically speaking, some early Christians actually found themselves in a position of actually participating in pagan ritual (see Paul’s instruction to the Gentiles at Corinth). This is the context of Paul’s warning. He tells them to watch their actions. . .to guard their actual participation.
The full context is not as you suggest, just “a close association. . .or friendship.” The FULL context is an active participation AND communal spiritual experience.
The partaking of the Lord’s Supper is simply a memorial, in memory, of what was given.
I have no idea how you would come to this conclusion, especially as you tout interest in Scriptural context.
Where in Scripture do you find Jesus ever giving his Body and Blood as a symbol, which is your ultimate contention, is it not? No one agrues that we celebrate the Eucharist as a memorial sacrifice, but the doctrine of symbolism is a new man made tradition that had no place in the early Church.
I just don’t see your symbolism. I know that it is his real Body and Blood that suffered and died for me on the cross. I also take Jesus at face value when he tells us: “Take, this is my body” (Mk. 14:22) and “This is my blood” (Mk. 14:24). I just don’t see how we can understand ANY offering of his Body and Blood as symbolic memorial. Jesus is God. God’s word does not return to him without accomplishing that for which he sent it (Is. 55:11). When God created the world, he did it out of nothing. His word accomplished everything—He said it, it was. So it is with Christ, when he says “This is my body.” It is.
“When you drink this cup, do it in rememborance of me.” “When you eat this bread, do it in rememborance of me.”
Contextually speaking, you need to do some serious research regarding the meaning of the word “remembrance.”
Eucharist is the memorial sacrifice of Christ’s Passover. The priest, in offering the Eucharist, is acting as a minister of Christ, in the priesthood of the New Covenant. There is a difference between the ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of all believers. It has not gone unnoticed that you have avoided this discussion as it only serves to blow your “we don’t need priests” position out of the water.
This idea of memorial sacrifice has deep roots in Sacred Scripture. We look to the Passover of the Israelites. When they continued the celebration of the Passover meal, they did it in remembrance of God’s mighty works wrought for them in the Exodus. This is not merely symbolic. Their participation in the timeless effects of God’s power was real and actual.
In fact, the Jews believed that by eating of the Passover Lamb they were active participants in the Exodus events. When we celebrate the Eucharist, Christ’s eternal work through the offering of his Body and Blood is made present and real to us today just as it was 2000 years ago. It is not happening again and again. . .it is happening eternally, never ending, from sun rise to sun set (Mal 1:11).
As Christians, we believe Christ’s work is powerful to transcend time and even our understanding. This is how ancient Israel understood the Passover, too. “Every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events are made present to the memory of believers so that they may conform their lives to them” (CCC 1363). Through the Eucharist, the sacrifice of Christ remains ever present to us so that we may be humbled and conform our lives to Him.
Your understanding of “remembrance” as a simple memory or happy reminder is unScriptural and has no place in the Apostolic tradition to which the Catholic church adheres.
This act is also to unite us in that, we all eat from the same loaf.
We actually eat the Body and Blood of our Savior. We are actually united as members of His Body. Christ redeemed us body and spirit, and so we recognize Him in His offering of Eucharis–Body and Spirit. It is actual. It is participatory. It is not just symbolic or just spiritual. He gives us His everything and expects the same of us in our participation–Body AND Spirit.