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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.


Kirkepiscatoid said...

I SO dig when Holy Week and Pesach fall on the same week. It just seems sort of "all connected."

With that said, I hate "Christianized seders." Pesach is about the Exodus, Holy Week is about Jesus. Nuff said.

Malinda said...

It is all connected, and when the holy days coincide I think it a gift - especially to teach about the ways in which we are connected, share a faith story rather than being divided by it.
We did a Lord's Feast - not a Christianized Seder nor a Jewish Last Supper - but a time for families to come together, eat and worship in new ways.
We talked about the Passover and what that meant - acknowledging Jesus and his friends as faithful and observant Jews gathered in Jerusalem for a fellowship meal. And we heard the words of John's gospel, and shared and witnessed to the new learning which was lord as servant in the washing of each other's feet.
I don't see the separation in our faith story - told well it is one great and amazing and inclusive message. I don't think we get a Holy Week without a Passover.

Frair John said...

Kikepiscatoid- My thoughts exactly. I once had a Jewish friend tell me that the Vigil of Easter was our seder.

Ama- I have so enjoyed these this week. It has been so cool to read your reflections and carry them with me all day and then head to Mass having prayed over the Gospel's so much. Thank you for sharing.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hmmm . . . well, Kirke and Malinda, in the NE Corridor, sharing Sedars with Jews has become very frowned upon by Rabbis in all but the Reformed Jews. Where once these events flourished, it is rare to see Jews and Christians observing Passover together. And, I'm not talking about a Christianized service. I'm talking about Christians being invited to participate in a Passover sedar. You're right Kirke. We have our own "Passover Seder" It's called 'Holy week.'

Malinda, what I have been 'preaching' to my Confirmation Class and their parents/godparents is that there is no Easter w/o Holy Week. As you know, I have made attendance at Holy Week mandatory for the Confirmation Class. There has been 'push back' in terms of attitude. I fully expect passive aggressive behavior. I'm not taking it personally. I'm a leader of a faith community. I'm going to make unpopular decisions. Fortunately, this is not a popularity contest. This is about the faith development of the next generation of Christians. I take that as serious as a heart attack. And, I'm willing to take the heat for it. Stay tuned.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Friar John. Stay tuned for my Maundy Thursday and Good Friday meditations. I'll post them late morning but they will be delivered in the evening.

IT said...

Elizabeth, YOu make me laugh. Or rather, your students/parishioners do. It seems to me that if one is seeking to be confirmed in the faith, one has to participate even when it's, welll, inconVEEEENient. Otherwise it's a meaningless rite of passage. What's the point?

My Beloved still sings in her RC folk choir which relies on her contralto/tenor. During holy week, she is very busy and I call myself the Catholic widow. (I refuse to step foot in her RC church , since institutionally I view them as homophobic misogynistic and medieavel authoritarians. Like most ex-Catholics, I'm vehemently anti-Catholic.
Of course, as far as the Institution goes, BP is in the closet there and I don't exist. Yet the choir knows and is fine with us. ) But I get that my Catholic widowhood is part of marrying a woman of deep faith however inconvenient. I wouldn't ask her not to fulfill her responsibilities.

Still she decided that since her choir doesn't do the Good Friday service, she could assuage my Catholic widowhood by being Episcopalian for Good Friday. I'll go with her to the TEC cathedral. We'll have the affirmation of being recognized and welcomed as a couple. She'll do her good Friday religious thing, I'll enjoy being with her and my own contemplations, and a mutual compromise will satisfy both of us.

Sigh. But then there's that Looooong easter vigil.... ;-)