Throughout the Passion narrative we hear witness to God’s gift and call. Today I invite you to meditate on Luke’s version of the institution of the Eucharist. Here it is more First Supper than Last because his commandment—“Do this”—is tied to promises about sharing it in the “kingdom of God,” and the presence of this story in the Gospel speaks to its continuation among the people of God. Nevertheless, we’re still trying to figure out how to do it right.
The Eucharist was not simply a new ritual that Jesus invented and gave to the church. It stands in continuity with the Passover and the banquet practices of the ancient Mediterranean world, and it seeks to subvert and convert them. Those banquets marked and enforced social hierarchies, to divide rich and poor, the socially acceptable from the unacceptable. Even on this night when Jesus was speaking about the sacrificial gift of his body and blood, the disciples just didn’t get it. Rather, they argued “as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest.”
Never mind what happened later that night when they fell asleep while he prayed. Their argument shows that they had already fallen asleep. Much of the time, contemporary disciples are no better.
So then, what?
We call this meal a “means of grace,” but it’s not some magic spiritual pill. Within our practice of the Holy Meal, the call to repent and turn toward God’s reign is both expressed and implied. Given today’s reading, that means letting go of disputes about rank and privilege so we will be free to enter Christ’s profound generosity. Is it possible that you’re tired of the argument anyway?
God of the Eucharist, thy kingdom come, and thy will be done. Give all of us this day our daily bread. Amen.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Psalm 118 is a song of rejoicing, yet it also includes the prophecy that the cornerstone must experience rejection. Isaiah speaks of physical suffering, of being beaten, disgraced, and spat on. We see elements of this in the Gospel reading, where Luke describes the final moments of Jesus’ life. Bloodied and beaten, Jesus hangs on the cross and breathes his last. In Philippians, Paul places this drama within the eternal narrative of God’s redeeming work. Jesus leaves his rightful place and becomes flesh. He experiences pain and suffering, even the most humiliating form of death, crucifixion. Jesus can empathize with our suffering because he has suffered. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. How does the Suffering Servant speak to your life today?
Read Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. How do you hear differently the familiar verses of this psalm when you read them together?
Read Philippians 2:5-11. Do you find it paradoxical to live as a beloved child of God and as a servant? If so, how do you live in this paradox?
Read Luke 22:14–23:56. How do you experience the extreme emotional highs and lows of Palm Sunday and Holy Week, even knowing how it will all turn out?
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