We come together this Holy Thursday evening to recall in our hearts and minds the events that occurred on Thursday of what the Church calls Holy Week, the last week in the life of our Lord.
One-third of all the events that we have about Jesus’ life occurred during this week: Reminding us of the great significance of these last days. The disciples have gathered in a home, whose we are not sure, but we do know that it had a furnished second floor.
As they gather they participate in what is called a Seder meal, one of the highlights of the Passover week. The Passover festival, of course, had been done for centuries before Jesus came on the scene. It commemorated that time when the Jews were in bondage in Egypt.
Moses warned Pharaoh to let his people go, but Pharaoh hardened his heart. So God sent a death over the land of Egypt, but miraculously this death passed over the homes of the Jews. Thus, the season of Passover was given birth.
The meal itself was a symbolic one reminding the Jews of the sufferings of their forefathers and the power of God’s deliverance. The foods that were eaten were symbols to remind the Jews of their captivity in Egypt.
Apple sauce was eaten to remind them of brick mortar and the fact that they were forced to make bricks with no straw. A bitter herb is eaten to remind them of the bitterness of their captivity. It was this symbolic Seder Meal that his disciples were partaking of that night in the upper room.
It was at the conclusion of that meal that Jesus himself added two more symbols. He took bread and broke it and gave it to his disciples saying: “Take and eat, this is my body which is broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.”
Then he took a cup with wine. He drank from it and gave it to his disciples saying, “Drink ye all of this, for this is my blood which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sin.” Thus was born our sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, out of the experience of an ancient Jewish custom.
Leonardo da Vinci by his famous painting has forever impressed upon our minds the Last Supper of our Lord. The scene that he depicts is that moment when Jesus announces his impending betrayal. The disciples look at one another with great shock, all, that is, except Judas, who refuses to look Jesus in the face and clutches his money to his breast.
I wonder as we look at those disciples around the table if we can see ourselves. For me they represent all that is good and bad about our humanity.
Thanks to CSS Publishing and to Nico Smit for the photo.
Spend some quiet moments today closing YOUR eyes and putting YOURSELF at the Last Supper with Jesus. What is he saying to YOU? What are YOU saying to Jesus?
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAD JUST ONE DAY TO LIVE? JESUS WASHED FEET!!