It is Holy Thursday and on this day approximately one thousand nine hundred and eighty five years ago, Jesus of Nazareth sat down to eat his last meal with his closest friends and disciples. The line in Corinthians reads: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.
I have heard these words countless times, as it is part of the celebration of the Eucharist at Catholic Mass. I have always loved them- they never fail to make something incredibly sweet and incredibly sad flutter in my heart and they manage, every time, to deliver to me as much sense as this mortal can grasp, of the limitless nature of Love.
However, when I read them this morning, they washed over me with a new awareness. I had an almost visceral experience of the depth of betrayal the human heart of Jesus must have felt. And then came the experience of its polarity- the depth of forgiveness the Sacred Heart of Jesus possessed. He could, and did, truly love those about to run, hide, deny and deliver him into the hands of his enemies; he could still see them as brother, friend and disciple despite Knowing the ugly things they were about to do.
Likely we have all experienced betrayal by someone we love. Someone who appeared to totally ‘get’ us, seemed to be in sync with us and declared their loyalty. We may have begun to feel very safe in relationship with them and gradually exposed our soft underbelly, letting down our guard and shedding our armour. Eventually, faced with a time of testing, we were completely and utterly blindsided and devastated when their actions left us in no doubt that we only imagined we were loved. The last time this happened to me, I can truthfully say that if I had any bread around me just when it was all going down, I might have thrown it, rather than giving thanks and offering it in peace!
Which leads me to reflect that I believe the Christ actually gave us a profound “Relationship/Life Rulebook’ of sorts, by his actions that night, as described.
Giving thanks for the bread was symbolic of expressing gratitude for everything the Divine delivers to us- whether it appears to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. He showed how to stand so firm in faith that no matter how dark and awful something seems, what we see first is the Hand of God working for our ultimate Resurrection. This is Rule #1: to gratefully declare- “Lord, you sent this to me, it must be for my highest good.”
Jesus then broke the bread so he could share it….an act of incredible kindness and sovereignty, despite the intuition that He would soon be betrayed and abandoned by his closest companions. Rule #2: No matter how you feel, what is most important is how you act. Act kindly; remember your royal nature as a child of the One so you can be gracious always.
He then goes on to say: ‘this is my body, it is for you’. By this, He is telling us about the very nature of Love. Rule #3: Authentic Love often requires tremendous personal sacrifice- perhaps of body at times, but more often of our negative ego and the need to be right.
Lastly: ‘do this in memory of me’… Christ speaks to us here of the nature of Forgiveness, saying in effect that there would come a time when all of the angst would be left behind and then he wanted them to know that it was okay to commemorate all the good of their relationship with Him. Rule #4: you should never forget, but you shall rise up and honour the best in you when you forgive. In this way, all the good memories can live forever, in your heart and soul.
May we all keep striving to love as Jesus loved. May we break bread with each other and not each other's hearts. May we live our prayer, not just mouth it.
I am a field of awareness. Any thing beyond that is identification with form...