Think back to the last time that you celebrated with friends or family some significant occasion. Was it a special birthday, an engagement party, graduation or wedding? The desire to mark such a special occasion with a meal is a deeply human and spiritual instinct. So much happens when we gather together and are bound more tightly together by sharing the meal. While the meal feeds our bodies, it says something so much greater, and actually begins to change us into something new and wonderfully different.
All the Jewish festivals had meals and feasts at their centre. This great feast of Passover was no different. At the heart of the feast was a meal that retold the story of how God had rescued and liberated them from slavery. When so much of their world continued to speak of oppression and slavery, celebrating Passover reminded them that they were God’s free people.
Jesus takes his disciples to a secret place so that he can say and do what he needs to without interruptions. This meal will do what needs to be said and done, and through repeating it, his disciples will slowly be changed by all that his death achieved to bring the kingdom of God here on earth as in heaven. This new Passover meal will not only explain what his passion is all about, but it will also enable all who share in this meal to allow the passion to change us as well. To make sense of the cross of Jesus, we need to start with this meal and draw our life and strength from this encounter.
As wonderful as this Last Supper meal is, it is never enough to describe it or talk about it. The only way to appreciate what happens in this meal is by doing what Jesus told us to do. No mere theory will ever say enough. We must do what Jesus told us to do – to take, bless, break and share the bread and the wine. It is only then that we understand the power of the bread now become his body and the wine now become his blood.
+ Jesus, as we gather today to celebrate the Eucharist, let us open our hearts to be transformed by the gift and power of your love that this meal reveals. Amen.
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.