October 7, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I have been away for a few days. Today I am taking the good news from Luke 22:14-20.
When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it [again] until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you [that] from this time on I shall not drink from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.”
I like what Barclay, a Protestant, writes about the last supper, “Jesus used the ancient symbols and gave them a new meaning. He said of the bread, ‘This is my body.’ Herein in exactly what we mean by a sacrament. A sacrament is something, usually a very ordinary thing, which has acquired a meaning far beyond itself for him who has eyes to see and a heart to understand. There is nothing specially theological or mysterious about this….The bread which we eat at the sacrament is common bread, but, for him who has a heart to feel and understand, it is the very body of Christ.” Jesus frequently used symbolism, metaphors, and parables to vividly communicate his message so that people could easily remember it and take it into themselves. He continued this practice at the last supper he would share with his apostles. I like the translation that Barclay uses, “Do this and it will make you remember me.” Likewise, the Sacra Pagina translates it as, “Keep doing this as a remembrance of me.” That’s precisely what he desired, that the apostles would remember all that he had taught them and the ultimate sacrifice he made for them and all mankind. Through him God entered into a new covenant with us.
The sacrament is meant for us to remember that Jesus came as the embodiment of God’s love for us. By that love He is calling us into the kingdom, a way of living demonstrated by our love of Him, our love of ourselves, and our love of each other. God will not impose it upon us. He offers it to us a free gift, a choice. When we have made that choice, we will find fulfillment in the kingdom of God and Jesus will dine with us again. Jesus tells us that he is eager to eat with us again. He wants every good thing for us that is available in the kingdom. He has given me eyes to see that he is in the bread of the eucharist at Mass but also in the bread at table that is broken and blessed and shared. He has given me a heart to understand what he desires for me in order to establish the kingdom in my heart and thus on earth. Eucharist means to give thanks. What a wonderful way to remember Jesus, to give thanks to our heavenly Father for the gift of His son, His living love for us, for me.