Sunday, March 02, 2008

That Last Supper

March is here and so are my thoughts already about Holy Week and those pivotal events during the last week of Jesus' life brought to us in so much detail in the gospels. It does seem that we remember the events before everything changed much more than we remember the content of living out each day, even when we're using our gifts and heeding our call.

Here are some thoughts about the Passover meal Jesus shared with his friends:

Jesus knew that things were heating up; that the Passover meal was the last one he would spend with his disciples, his beloved community. Never again would they gather in this same manner, a teacher and guide not simply with his followers, but with the people who were closest to his heart, who had shared intimately in his ministry, who had journeyed with him, who had tried to make his vision their own.

By the time they gathered for dinner, Jesus knew that a crisis in his ministry, in his life, was unavoidable. He knew that he would have to endure death to remain faithful to his call. He tried to explain this to his disciples, but they couldn’t fathom it. They weren’t ready to understand or comprehend the way Jesus’ death would tear apart their lives. There was no way for them to predict the Resurrection.

Imagine how it must have felt for Jesus. His closest friends incapable of understanding what he’d said to them, what his ministry was truly about. It must have been heartbreaking, yet he trusted God’s power to transform lives, even beyond death. Jesus took common items from an everyday meal, bread and wine, and offered them to his dear ones as a way to remember his life and God’s promises.

How powerfully this symbol lives on. Proclaiming the mystery God worked through Jesus, bringing healing and new life out of brokenness and death. Throughout time and throughout the world, the mystery continues, and we gather around a table, like the disciples, to eat the bread and drink from the cup. Through this act, we are brought into community. We are held in relationship with each other and with God.

We share the grain of the fields, the fruit of the vine, and we are offered the chance to be recreated and transformed. When we, like the disciples, say yes to the gift without having to understand it, we demonstrate our faith. We proclaim our willingness to follow Jesus into the broken places in this world and in our hearts, and we offer ourselves to the holy, to be God’s instruments of healing. Through the ordinary, we encounter the profound.

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