Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Wednesday in Holy Week: A Piece of Bread
The gospel for today is John 13:21-32.
The disciples have had their Passover meal. They are reclining, as was their wont to do in those days, while they talk amongst themselves about the day.
I imagine they might also be remembering the dinner, just the day before, given in honor of Jesus at the home of Lazarus and Mary and Martha in Bethany. How good it must have been to have seen Lazarus again - alive and well, sharing a meal and a hearty laugh. Life is good again and Jesus is being honored and praised.
How ironic that Lazarus has died and been resurrected, a fate Jesus knows he is about to face, but his death will be far more excruciating - physically, emotionally and spiritually. So much so, that I'm sure he can't even get his head fully wrapped around the resurrection part, as yet.
I know I can't.
Ironies abound. One of his own disciples - one who loved him and worked side by side with him and believed in him - will betray him this night with a kiss. Not with a heated argument or a slap in the face. No, the betrayal comes with a sign of affection and intimacy. A kiss.
Jesus dips a piece of bread into the plate - probably with some olive oil on it - as an indication to "the beloved disciple" and Simon Peter of the identity of his betrayer.
Judas doesn't yet know that the same bread which Jesus will ask his disciples to remember him by is a symbol of his body, which will be given up for him - for them - for us all.
The same bread that will become a foretaste of the heavenly banquet is also the vehicle for Satan to enter the body of Judas.
The same bread and wine that is about to be broken and poured out will become the Body and Blood of Christ, in the same way his body is about to be broken and his blood poured out by the lash and the crown of thorns and the cross.
A simple piece of bread. A simple cup of wine.
A trinity of substance is coming into being - Jesus, bread and wine.
A trinity of human emotion has been identified - love, fear, betrayal.
We are all of one substance with Jesus, who is one with God and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we always have been. It just took Jesus to show us our true identity in him.
Today's gospel begins to move us from the Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane. We shouldn't be surprised to find another betrayal of trust.
As we continue to journey with Jesus, we find on our path pieces of bread left as markers for other pilgrims. These cairnes of living bread send the silent message that we are on the right path.
Will we choose the path that will lead us to the sacrifice of a new life or allow it to lead us astray?
The choice is - has always been, from the beginning - ours.