Tag Archives: Last Supper

The Father’s Face

Russian icon, The Mystical Supper (early 14th century). Fresco in Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos.

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter

John 14:7-14

If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.

John 14:7

Holy prophets longed to see what the disciples saw but did not see it (Matthew 13:17; 1 Peter 1:10-11). Angels bend and “stoop sideways” (parakúpto) with a yearning to peer into the hidden mysteries of Christ (1 Peter 1:12). 

Not even Moses, who saw God’s glory pass before him on Mount Sinai (Exodus 33:18-23), saw what the disciples saw. Theirs was a singular privilege in the history of Israel. Yet Philip repeated Moses’ request as if nothing new had taken place.

Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”

John 14:8

Moses said, “Show me your glory!”

Exodus 33:18; LXX

Philip duplicated Moses’ request with the same opening words in the Greek version: Show me/us the…

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.

John 14:9-10

What does it mean to know and be known in a relationship? The disciples knew Jesus’ name, physical features, family, community, culture, religion, language, and many of his teachings. But did they really know who Jesus was? 

None of the above variables for knowing a person touched the depth of Jesus’ identity. The unseen Father dwelling in the Son, and the Son dwelling in the Father remained an opaque mystery to the disciples. Yet this is who Jesus was, is, and ever will be, for ever and ever. Prior to the Virgin birth, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Undivided yet distinct, Father and Son speak with one voice, and act as one God.

Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. 

John 14:11

Considering God’s point of view, how are free thinking human beings to be brought into the knowledge of the Blessed Trinity? Making himself visible in the Son as a human being was the climax of the Abrahamic covenant and prophecies, but the Father remained hidden and unknown. Jesus used two main methods: words (“believe me”) and works (signs and wonders).   Theophanies at the Baptism in the Jordan and the Transfiguration also revealed the identity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  As the Last Supper Discourse progresses, God’s final and most powerful method will be disclosed: 

The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.

John 14:26

The Holy Spirit completes the mission of the Son, whose outpouring of grace will be the cause of “greater works” accomplished through the Body of Christ:

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.

John 14:12

Jesus’ “going to the Father” is the hinge for the Spirit’s movement from one end of the earth to the other, and from the Jewish nation to the nations of the world.

And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

John 14:13-14

In Hebrew culture, names represent persons and their characters. Faith in the name, character, and person of Jesus Christ brings glory to the Father. 

The priestly blessing to Aaron and his sons became flesh in Jesus Christ. The face of God the Father shone upon his disciples and blessed them. 

The Lord bless you and keep you!
The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.

Numbers 6:24-27

-GMC

My Father’s House

Duccio, The Last Supper, Maestá altarpiece (1311)

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

John 14:1-6

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.

John 14:1

One of the disciples was about to betray Jesus (John 13:21-30). Another was forewarned that he would deny him thrice before cockcrow (John 13:38). The disciples had reasons to feel uneasy. Yet immediately after these predictions, Jesus exhorted them to stand firm in faith. 

“Believe in God; believe also in me,” an alternative translation reads. Pisteuete (believe) can be read in either the indicative or imperative moods.

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 

John 14:2

“My Father’s house” evoked a world of images and ideas that shaped the character of Israel from ancient times. Psalm 122 celebrates a pilgrim’s journey to “the house of the LORD,” Jerusalem, which means “foundation of peace (shalom).”  

I rejoiced when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

Psalm 122:1; LXX

The same word for house, oikia, is used in John’s Gospel and in the Greek translation of the Psalm. Shalom, shalom, shalom—the Psalm resounds thrice (verses 6-8). The house of the LORD is a city of peace, an assembly of praise, and a citadel of justice.

There are many mansions or dwelling places (moné) in the house of the LORD, room enough for all. The Son of Man who had “nowhere to lay his head” on earth, poorer than foxes and birds, threw open the doors to his Father’s house of plenty.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.

John 14:3

Jesus will ultimately triumph over death; the grave cannot hold him prisoner. Christ will “come again” and live forever with his disciples. A little later, Jesus locates the Father’s dwelling (moné) in the hearts of believers:

Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.

John 14:23

Dwelling in the Father’s house, and being indwelt by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are expressions of supreme union between God and his children.

“Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”

John 14:4-5

Why did Jesus expect his disciples to “know the way”? Perhaps the tradition of the Torah, Psalms, and Prophets should have clued them in.

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 86:11; LXX

Way (Hebrew derek and Greek hodos) is a central idea in Mosaic law and liturgy. “Walking” (halak) in the way of the LORD is an idiom for living righteously in the sight of God.

Be careful, therefore, to do as the LORD, your God, has commanded you, not turning aside to the right or to the left, but following exactly the way that the LORD, your God, commanded you that you may live and prosper, and may have long life in the land which you are to possess.

Deuteronomy 5:32-33; LXX

If Thomas’ question had been directed to Moses, he would have been guided in the word, law, life, and truth handed down from Mount Sinai (Psalm 119).

The new Moses responded:

I am the way and the truth and the life.

John 14:6

The way, the truth, and the life of the Mosaic law has become flesh in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Way, the Truth, and the Life is a person revealing the face of God the Father.

No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

-GMC

For the Love of the Church

Byzantine mosaic, Jesus Washing the Feet of the Disciples, Monreale Cathedral, Italy (1180s)

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

John 13:16-20

In the foot washing scene at the Last Supper, a beautiful image of apostolic communion in Christ toward the Father is given to the Church. 

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.

John 13:20

An apostle (apostolos) is a “messenger,” one sent out by Jesus Christ to represent him. Sender and sent are so closely united that Paul reached for an organic metaphor to express it:

He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.

Colossians 1:18; cf. Ephesians 1:22; 1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12:4-8

Jesus’ vision of the Church soars far beyond this earth, yet deep within its heart, into the glory of the Blessed Trinity who dwells in creation as in a temple. Apostles are sent by Christ to lead God’s children into the very heart of the Father, sender of his only-begotten Son.

Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.

John 13:16-17

Jesus’ standard of greatness was demonstrated on the floor with a basin of water and a towel around his waist. His actions and words mirrored the very character of the Father: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Apostles are called to be icons of Christ, mirrors of the Father’s heart, in the Spirit of truth.

Even if one out of twelve betray him, Jesus showed by his free acceptance of the Cross that the Church is worth dying for.

I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me. ’From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.

John 13:18-19

Love is worth the price of betrayal. With only one disciple at the foot of the Cross, one hanged, and ten in hiding, Jesus looked beyond his scars, thorns, nails, and wounds to the Father and pleaded on behalf of the Church and world: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

When Jesus expired to the Father, he commended all of humanity to the Father: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows and Mother of the Church, pray for us.

-GMC

Bread of Life

John “came to the tomb first, and he saw and believed” (John 20:8).

Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter

John 6:35-40

Egō eimi ho artos tēs zōēs. I AM the Bread of Life. 

After the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus revealed his divine identity in the form of an I AM statement, hearkening back to the revelation of God’s name to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14; LXX). 

Food, the fundamental need of all sentient flesh, was the chief catalyst in the protological trial of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. A desire for something more that would satisfy a mysterious longing drove them to partake of the forbidden fruit. Brokenness, division, and unquenchable hunger and thirst followed in its wake. Toiling for food from cursed ground became Adam’s lot as he and his progeny entered the treadwheel of “dust to dust” (Genesis 3:19).

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger…

John 6:35

The first persons who “come” (erchomai) and seek Jesus in the New Testament are the Magi:

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

Matthew 2:2

The chief priests and the scribes, quoting Micah 5:1(2), informed King Herod that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread” (Matthew 2:6). 

…and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

John 6:35

“Believe me,” Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:13-14

The verb “believe” (pisteuó) is deeply personal, involving trust and surrender to the Word of God who is “true” (aléthinos, “made of truth;” see John 6:32). 

But I told you that although you have seen [me], you do not believe.

John 6:36

“Seeing” (horaó) and “believing” (pisteuó) involve more than the retina. The Magi “saw” the star and the child, and worshipped him (Matthew 2:10-11). John the Beloved came (erchomai) to the empty tomb, and saw (horaó) and believed (pisteuó) (John 20:8). 

Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me…

John 6:37 

What does it mean to “give” (didómi) in the eternal Godhead of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Jesus repeated this verb over and over again during the Last Supper Discourse:

When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.

“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours…

John 17:1-9

Something or someone “given” (didómi) is a precious gift from one person to another. The Father has entrusted “everything” (pas) to the Son, and the Son will not “cast out” or “reject” (ekballo) any who come (erchomai) to him (John 6:37).

Jesus finally enfolds the “all” and “everything” (pas) given to him in the glory of the Triune Love.

and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.

John 17:10

In the Bread of Life discourse, which harmonizes with the Last Supper Discourse (where bread is broken), Jesus constantly attributes the origin of his mission to the Father.

because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it [on] the last day.

John 6:38-39

The Father and the Son act with a single, divine will. Human free will comes into play in both bread discourses as Jesus mourns the possibility of “losing” (apollumi) any of those given to him. 

When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled.

John 17:12

The mystery of free will is… a mystery…

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day.”

John 6:38-39

The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the Magi, St. John and all the saints who “came,” “saw,” and “believed” are shining guideposts in our journey to Bethlehem, the “house of bread.”

-GMC

The Love of a Mother Hen

Fra Angelico, Detail of the Crucifixion (ca.1437-46)

30th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday (Year II)

Luke 13:31-35

Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you” (Luke 13:31). 

From the bare text alone, it is difficult to determine the true motive of this warning from “some  Pharisees.” Interpretations range from friendly and good-willed to guileful and hostile.1 The latter seems more likely since they approach Jesus as a group. In the exceptional cases of Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, and Nicodemus, a Pharisee, Jesus is approached alone and even at night for fear of their peers (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43; John 19:38; John 3:2). It took a lot of courage to stand alone against majority opinion.

Prophets have had to escape violent rulers for good reasons. David hid from Saul (I Samuel 19:1-17) and Elijah fled from Jezebel’s vengeful wrath (I Kings 19:1-4). But Jesus marched onward in the face of Herod’s threats.  

He replied, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose. Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem’ (Luke 13:32-33). 

The crafty, fox-like Herod (alópéx) had no power over Jesus whose only goal was to do the Father’s will. Jesus sought no overthrow of earthly kingdoms, but prepared hearts for the kingdom of heaven. His kingship was not of this world, his army consisted of “lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3), and his greatest weapon was love even unto death on the Cross. 

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” Jesus had prophesied (John 2:19). Destruction and construction must take place in the holy city Jerusalem, the center of temple worship and culture.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling! (Luke 13:34)

Jerusalem is an address to the entire people of Israel, as in Jeremiah’s lament: “To what can I compare you—to what can I liken you—O daughter Jerusalem?” (Lamentations 2:13) Jesus compared himself to a mother hen who shelters her children under her wings. Against all evolutionary instinct, the divine hen does not run away from the ravenous fox. “Survival of the fittest” is transcended by kenotic suffering, death, and resurrection. 

Behold, your house will be abandoned. But I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 13:35).

“A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me,” Jesus said to his disciples at the Last Supper (John 16:16), echoing these final words to the Pharisees. The fox will kill the hen, leaving the chicks abandoned for “a little while,” but for all who repent in the name of Jesus Christ and return to the Father, “your grief will become joy… your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you” (John 6:16-22). 

St. Cyril of Alexandria reads the greeting, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” as a prediction of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem before his crucifixion (Matthew 21:9). St. Augustine, Theophylact, and Bede interpret the saying, originally from Psalm 118:26, as referring to Jesus’ post-resurrection glory.2

From the divine perspective, the house of Israel and Jerusalem is universalized to include the whole human race. So long as God continues to be stoned and killed in the hearts of human persons, spiritual desolation ensues. The “time” to welcome the Lord into our hearts is today  (Hebrews 3:15). 

-GMC

1 Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J. conjectures that these Pharisees “are depicted giving Jesus sage advice; these at least are well disposed toward him.” He finds support in other modern commentators: “Indeed, J. B. Tyson (‘Jesus and Herod Antipas,’ 245) plausibly argues for the historicity of this incident from the fact that Pharisees appear here not as antagonists of Jesus but as friends.” See The Anchor Bible: The Gospel According to Luke (X-XXIV), Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1985, p. 1030.

William Barclay writes: “There may have been six bad Pharisees for every good one but this passage shows that even amongst the Pharisees there were those who admired and respected Jesus” (Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, 13:31-35).

On the other hand, the majority of classic Protestant commentaries of the last three centuries hold that these Pharisees had hypocritical and malicious intentions, and were possibly in league with Herod and Herodias in delivering the warning. These commentaries are all in the public domain:

Charles John Ellicott, Joseph Benson, Albert Barnes, Matthew Poole, John Gill, Heinrich Meyer, W. Robertson Nicoll (The Expositor’s Greek New Testament), F. W. Farrar (Gospel of Luke, Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges), John Albert Bengel (Bengel’s Gnomon of the New Testament), Joseph Exell (The Pulpit Commentary).

Patristic commentary is sparse on this verse, but St. Cyril of Alexandria finds these Pharisees ill-disposed toward Jesus: “Likely to lose their office of leaders of the people and already fallen and expelled from their authority over them and deprived of their profits—for they were fond of wealth, and covetous, and given to lucre—they made pretense of loving him, and even drew near, and said, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you’” (Commentary on Luke, Homily 100).

2 From St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Luke 13:35:

AUGUSTINE. (de Cons. Ev. ubi sup.) But as Luke does not say to what place our Lord went from thence, so that He should not come except at that time, (for when this was spoken He was journeying onward until He should come to Jerusalem), He means therefore to refer to that coming of His, when He should appear in glory.

THEOPHYLACT. For then also will they unwillingly confess Him to be their Lord and Saviour, when there shall be no departure hence. But in saying, Ye shall not see me until he shall come, &c. does not signify that present hour, but the time of His cross; as if He says, When ye have crucified Me, ye shall no more see Me until I come again.

BEDE. Ye shall not see, that is, unless ye have worked repentance, and confessed Me to be the Son of the Father Almighty, ye shall not see My face at the second coming.

Servant Leadership

Russian icon, Jesus Washing the Feet of the Disciples

20th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday (Year II)

Matthew 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.

In this confrontation with the scribes and Pharisees, the new Moses came to reclaim his chair for the Father alone. The “sheep without a shepherd” had been led down dark alleys and into a pit by blind guides. Until the coming of the Good Shepherd, the impoverished flock had little choice but to follow leaders whose words and actions often did not match. 

They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.

These words of criticism laid bare what many may have perceived but simply accepted as c’est la vie. Minute rules and regulations, purification rituals, food laws, and Sabbath do’s and don’ts made life excessively constrained. The heart of religion—love of God and neighbor—was often choked by the fear of transgressing lesser rules that resulted in breaking the golden one. The nervous legalist easily missed the forest for the trees.

All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

These words were reminiscent of the Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Christ’s example of servant leadership, bent to the ground with a towel around his waist, spoke more powerfully than words. “You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:13-14).

These final remarks also addressed ministerial concerns in the early church, as the first Christians sought to distance themselves from the synagogue culture from which they emerged. The Catholic Study Bible offers the following insight (footnote to Matthew 23:1-39):

“While the tradition of a deep opposition between Jesus and the Pharisees is well founded, this speech reflects an opposition that goes beyond that of Jesus’ ministry and must be seen as expressing the bitter conflict between Pharisaic Judaism and the church of Matthew at the time when the gospel was composed… The evangelist discerns in his church many of the same faults that he finds in its opponents and warns his fellow Christians to look to their own conduct and attitudes.”

Christians and Jews living side by side in a ruined Jerusalem after A.D. 70 needed ideals and ways of governing that were distinct and true to their own founders. The Mosaic teaching authority (“chair of Moses”) evolved into the institution of rabbis, in which it seems that the addresses of “father” and “master” were also used. New cultures are not born in a vacuum; the Jewish Christians who were brought up under rabbinic authority adapted many of the practices of their brethren. 

The tendency of leaders to lord it over others is almost a sociological law. Baptism and faith in  Christ did not automatically eradicate that tendency. The excesses of the scribes and Pharisees were a mirror and warning to the young church. 

What is to be made of the established title of “father” in the Churches of East and West? In the desert tradition, “abba” and “amma” (father and mother) were titles given to the wise and holy men and women who renounced the world to seek God alone. “Abbot” and “abbess” were variants of the same titles used in Benedictine monasteries. These titles ultimately come from the family. Where there is harmony in a family, “father” and “mother” denote relationships of respect and love. St. Paul expressed his love for the Church in such terms: “Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (I Corinthians 4:15). The essence of leadership is not found in  titles, but in humility and charity. 

-GMC

Omniscient Love

Duccio, The Washing of Feet and the Supper, Maestá altarpiece, 1308-1311

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

John 13:16-20

If you knew in detail what would happen tomorrow, would you plan for a favorable outcome?

Jesus had all the advantages of divine omniscience, yet he freely and knowingly welcomed Judas into his intimate circle of friends.

“But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.” 

John 13:18

It was not written in the stars for Judas to betray; he was always free to choose love rather than betrayal. Jesus’ expression of sorrow at the table was an invitation for Judas to change his mind. 

“From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.”

John 13:19

Why did Jesus, the divine, all-knowing I AM of the voice from the burning bush, not prevent his own betrayal? Ultimately, divine love prevails over self-preservation. Love does not avoid enemies, but forgives them and even dies for them. Love is the grain of wheat that falls into the earth and dies, bringing forth new life. 

-GMC

“Wait for One Another”

In today’s reading at Mass from 1 Corinthians ( 11, 17-26.33) we have the earliest written account of the institution of the Last Supper in the New Testament:
“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my Body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my Blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”

The simple account stresses that Jesus, taking bread and wine, gave himself, Body and Blood, “for you.” He gave himself for all. When we do this “in remembrance of me” we are called to be like him, to give ourselves for all.

Paul warns the Corinthians that by what he hears of their divisions and factions they’re failing to do what the Lord commands. Instead of imitating what Jesus d, they’re driving others away in their celebrations and thus bringing judgment on themselves.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters,
when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

A beautiful phrase Paul uses, “wait for one another.” A phrase that comes from the family meal in Paul’s time, when someone might miss the meal if the family did not wait for them. “We have to wait for them.”

So we wait for the grace Jesus offers at the Eucharist, to see all at the table of the Lord, loved by God who loves all.

Holy Thursday

Lent 1
Readings
“Love makes one little room an everywhere.” That’s what happened  when Jesus entered the supper room in Jerusalem the night before he died. A dark fate awaited him as powerful forces readied to take his life. His disciples, “his own who were in the world,” were arguing among themselves as they took their places at table. Jn 13,1-15

What would he do? Understandably, he might do nothing, disappointed  like the servant whom the prophet Isaiah described, “I toiled in vain; and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength…” (Is. 49).

Jesus, however, took bread and gave it to his disciples. “Take this,” he said, “this is my body.” He took the cup and gave it to them. “This is my blood, the blood of the new covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many.”

That night, without wariness or regret, he gave himself to his Father and to his disciples. As our Savior and Redeemer he gave himself unhesitatingly for the life of the world. In the supper room a love was tested and a love was displayed that reached everywhere.

Holy Thursday night. “Now is not the time to write, rather to weep. Jesus is dead to give us life. All creatures are mourning, the sun is darkened, the earth quakes, the rocks are rent, the veil of the temple is torn. Only my heart remains harder than flint. I will say no more. Join the poor mother of the dead Jesus as her companion. Ask the dear Magdalene and John where their hearts are. Let the sea of their pains flood within you. I end at the foot of the cross.” (St. Paul of the Cross,Letter 181)

How shall I make a return to the Lord
for the goodness he has shown to me.
The cup of salvation I will take up
and call on the name of the Lord. Ps 116

Tuesday of Holy Week

Lent 1
Readings
The gospels from Monday to Thursday in Holy Week take us away from the crowded temple area in Jerusalem where Jesus spoke before many of his avowed enemies. These days he eats at table with “his own.” In Bethany six days before Passover he eats with Martha , Mary and Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead. Mary anointed his feet with precious oil in a beautiful outpouring of her love.

The gospels for Tuesday and Wednesday bring us to the table in Jerusalem where he eats with the twelve who followed him. Love is poured out here too, but these gospels describe a love with great cost. “I tell you solemnly, one of you will betray me,” Jesus says to them. Friends that followed him abandon him. Judas dips his hand into the dish with him and then goes out into the night. Peter will deny him three times; the others flee. Jesus must face suffering and death alone.

Are we unlike them?

Does a troubled Jesus face us too, “his own,” to whom he gave new life in the waters of baptism and Bread at his table. Will we not betray or deny? Are we sure we will not go away? The gospels are not just about what’s past; they’re also about now.

We think the saints exaggerate when they call themselves great sinners, but they know the truth. That’s the way St. Paul of the Cross described himself in his account of his forty day retreat as a young man:

“I rejoiced that our great God should wish to use so great a sinner, and on the other hand, I knew not where to cast myself, knowing myself so wretched. Enough! I know I shall tell my beloved Jesus that all creatures shall sing of his mercies.” (Letter 2)

Almighty ever-living God,

grant us so to celebrate the mysteries of the Lord’s Passion

that we may merit to receive your pardon.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.