Tag Archives: Last Supper

“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.

 

Bread and Wine

photo

The German theologian Romano Guardini years ago recommended in a little book “Sacred Signs” that we let the signs and the words of the liturgy guide our prayer. He was a key figure in initiating recent liturgical reforms in the Catholic Church, which made the signs and prayers of the liturgy better able to communicate the mysteries we celebrate.

I suspect, though, that in our liturgical prayer today the words of the liturgy–the scripture readings and the homily–get more of our attention than the signs.

Maybe we need to pay more attention to signs like bread and wine. They’re sacred signs we can take for granted.

In our prayer over the bread at Mass we say: “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we received the bread we offer you, fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.” The bread we offer is the fruit of the earth and work of human hands. It’s a sign of all creation, of everything that the “God of all creation” gives us, of everything our hands have fashioned.

“The word bread stands for everything,” Augustine said in one of his commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer. (Epistle to Proba) Early commentators like Tertullian, Cyprian and Origen wrestled with that petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Does it mean just the food we eat, or does it mean the wisdom we need? Is Jesus Christ our daily bread? I like Augustine’s explanation because it’s so open-ended.

Scientists say that our universe came into existence about 15 billion years ago. About 3.5 billion years ago life began on our planet. Bread and wine represent that universe; they’re brought to the altar to tell its story.

About 200,000 years ago human life emerged on our planet. 200,000 years of human life are represented in the bread and wine, and our lives are part of the human story represented in bread and wine.

We believe that God created our world and it’s good, according to the Book of Genesis. There’s a plan for this universe, a plan conceived in God’s wisdom and love. In its opening chapters, Genesis poetically describes the beginning of our universe, but then turns quickly to the journey of the human family from its beginnings .

God’s plan, however, involves, not just the human family, but also the universe itself. All creation is waiting for the kingdom of God to be revealed. The bread and wine are signs of it.

Certainly human beings have an important role in the coming of God’s kingdom, as the incarnation of Jesus Christ makes clear. We’re not slaves, cogs in the wheel, as life grinds on. We represent God here in the universe and have to exercise a godlike care of this world. Each of us has a part to play that God’s kingdom come. We share in the promise.

We know too that the mystery of evil is at work in our world, a mystery also represented in the bread and wine. When Jesus took bread into his hands at the Last Supper, he saw a sinful world ready to put him to death, but he still took the bread in his hands. His blood would be poured out, but he still took the chalice to drink from it.

How magnificent is his response. He takes all created reality, all human existence, the goodness and evil of life in his hands, embracing them all with God’s love and care. From his hands he gives them to us, blessed by his presence.

“This is my body.” “This is my blood.” Incarnate in this great universe he gives life to it and to us.

In communion, Jesus gives himself to us in bread and wine, the signs of the world in which we live. We’re to live in that great world and have a role in it to fulfill. The Word made flesh is our bread of life, our food and drink, who gives wisdom and power to us.

Father Thomas Berry, a Passionist priest who taught me long ago, had a passionate love of the universe and a concern that the universe story enrich our way of looking at life. In one of his writings he saw the universe story enriching our understanding of the sacraments. It does.

Sunday Readings: Fifth Week (C)

Acts 14, 24-27
Revelations 21,1-5
John 13,31-33,34-35

Jesus came to cast the fire of love on the earth. A few verses earlier in John’s gospel, which we read today, Jesus gives Judas “a morsel” of bread just before the disciple leaves the supper table and goes out into the night. Even as the disciple prepares to betray him Jesus offers him a sign of love. Before that he knelt before Peter and washed the feet of the disciple who would deny him three times. The rest, confused about the betrayal taking place, cannot grasp the love Jesus offers. They’re like children who do not understand. They’re like us. “I give you an new commandment,” Jesus says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Love is the sign and the key.

The Risen Lord brings new life to all of creation as well as to humanity, according to the Book of Revelations. John sees “a new heaven and a new earth.” Creation is not restored to its original state, but transformed and perfected by God to be a new habitation for humanity. “God will dwell with them and they shall be his people.” A new Jerusalem adorned as a bride will be its city. No evil will be found in this new creation.

Revelations rejects the belief that God sees creation as evil and will destroy it in the future, a belief some Christians today unfortunately hold. In Christ God promises and will bring about a renewal of creation and our task is to work for its renewal. That means we don’t turn away from the world in which we live and simply pursue our own aims. We are called to work in this world for justice and good so that God’s kingdom will come.

In the Acts of the Apostles Paul and Barnabas say to the embattled churches of Lystra, Iconium and Antioch “We must undergo many trials if we are to enter the reign of God.” They install “elders” for the better organization of these churches, but the goal of the churches goes beyond good organization. Their goal is to work for the reign of God as they undergo many trials. Like seed, the church grows in this world, and we hardly recognize its growth.

One Room, an Everywhere

“Love makes one little room an everywhere.”

That was so when Jesus entered the supper room in Jerusalem to eat with his disciples on 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. What would he do?

Understandably he might respond with disappointment, 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.

Sunday Night at Mission

Tonight, we are going to visit three important events in the life of Jesus, which I notice  are pictured in the windows of the church here in St. Clement’s, Matawan.

 

They are all found in St. Matthew’s Gospel:

 

  1. The Supper at Bethany
  2. The Last Supper
  3. The Agony of Jesus in the Garden.

 

Here are pictures of two of the windows.