Daily Gospel Reflection - 25 August 2011
Mark 14.12-26 CEB: On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, the disciples said to Jesus, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover meal?”
He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city. A man carrying a water jar will meet you. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks, “Where is my guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?” ’ He will show you a large room upstairs already furnished. Prepare for us there.” The disciples left, came into the city, found everything just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover meal.
That evening, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. During the meal, Jesus said, “I assure you that one of you will betray me—someone eating with me.”
Deeply saddened, they asked him, one by one, “It’s not me, is it?”
Jesus answered, “It’s one of the Twelve, one who is dipping bread with me into this bowl. The Human One goes to his death just as it is written about him. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays the Human One! It would have been better for him if he had never been born.”
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. I assure you that I won’t drink wine again until that day when I drink it in a new way in God’s kingdom.” After singing songs of praise, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
The Last Supper. The First Eucharist. However one wants to view it, this is a very powerful scene. There are several elements here but we are just going to touch on one. This meal takes place ‘when the Passover lamb was sacrificed’. The sign shouldn’t be missed. The Passover was part of the Exodus story - some would argue that it’s the Greatest Story of Israel. The Passover retells the story of the ‘tenth plague’ against Egypt - the death of the first born. To prevent death from coming to the Hebrews, a lamb was to be killed and it’s blood was smeared on the door posts of the home. If the blood was on the doorpost, death would ‘pass over’ the family. (An interesting aside, if the blood was not on the doorpost, the first born of that Israelite family would die, too.) After several years of ‘plagues’, death of all the first born in Egypt was the turning point - Israel was released from captivity. Though the Egyptian army chased the Israelites to the Reed Sea, Yahweh rescued the Israelites by making a way through the sea and the pursuing Egyptian army drowned. Israel then began the 40 year journey to the ‘promised land’. Every year, this Great Story of Israel’s rescue is remembered by Jewish families all over the world.
This meal was instituted by Jesus on the same day that this Great Story was remembered. Jesus is thus enacting a New Exodus story - the story of the world’s rescue through his approaching death. This is the first meal - the inauguration of God’s rescue plan for all creation. The idea, then, is the Exodus story is an image, a parable, of Jesus’ story about his death. It is a glimpse into how he understood his approaching death. It is also a glimpse into how we should understand it as well.
This meal that Christians have (some every week, some less often), is the reminder of what God did through the death of Jesus. It should remind us that, not only has God removed our sin, but also the sin of the whole world. It should remind us that the New Exodus, God’s Grand Rescue Operation began with the death and resurrection of Jesus. It should remind us that ‘[God] reconciled all things to [Godself] through him— whether things on earth or in the heavens. [God] brought peace through the blood of [Jesus on the] cross’ (Colossians 2.20; CEB).
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br Jack+, LC