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From the outset, let me say that no orthodox Christian sacrifices animals, or in fact has any “new” sacrifice at all on their altars. Catholics and Orthodox teach that what is on their altars is the one sacrifice of Jesus – re-presented, ''not'' re-performed or “redone.” Jesus is NOT sacrificed again in the Eucharist, and to teach or even imply this would be a grave heresy. Jesus’ sacrifice was done once and for all, as is taught elsewhere in Hebrews (10:12). But that one sacrifice is made present for us in Holy Communion, as if we are taken out of time itself and stand before Jesus on Calvary.
As St. Paul says in his epistle to the Galatians, “Before your very <u>eyes</u> Jesus Christ was clearly <u>portrayed</u> as crucified.” [emphasis mine] Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians also speaks of the Eucharist as being a sacrifice on an altar… he deplored the practice by some early Christians of taking Communion while in church, and later eating foods sacrificed to demons, saying that,“[T]he sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s <u>table</u> [i.e., altar] and the <u>table</u> of demons.” [emphasis mine]
Now we consider our main verse, Hebrews 13:9-10. Many Protestants actually cite this verse to ''support'' their symbolic-only view of the Eucharist, which holds that Communion is not necessary or important, and is certainly not a sacrifice on an altar. The usual way the argument goes is like this: Catholics and Orthodox have a “ceremonial food” (i.e., the Eucharist), and Paul obviously condemns this and says it is of no value. When Paul then speaks of the “altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat”, he means by the word “eat” not a literal eating of Communion, but of believing in Jesus.