Sunday June 7, 2015
A Reflection on Mark 14:12-16, 22-26 N.A.B.
By: Larry T
At a small group faith sharing meeting last year our parish pastor asked, “What does the Last Supper mean to you?” Red faced, the eight of us stared studiously at our hands, not daring to meet his eyes. To be sure, it wasn’t a fair question - the kind to be answered on the spur of the moment, because there is more than one good answer. Still yet, it is a thought provoking question. What are we to make of the Last Supper?
In the Gospel reading for this Sunday we read about the events leading up to the Last Supper, the meal itself, and the institution of the Holy Eucharist:
12 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
13 He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him.
14 Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’
15 Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.”
16 The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.
22 While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.”
23 Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.
25 Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
26 Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Our attention is immediately drawn to the words of Institution (vv. 22-24) because they are a familiar part of the Mass, but there is much more to it than that. Is it possible that Jesus asks each of us, Where is my guest room where I may eat my Passover with you? And if His words and actions have caused us to spiritually prepare for Him, He will come to dwell within us.
Once the meal preparations were completed Jesus gathered his disciples and went to the upper room. Today, some two thousand years later, Jesus continues to assemble us (his disciples) in preparation for the meal.
Jesus abruptly departed from the traditional meal ritual when he broke the bread, handed it to his disciples and said, “Take it, this is my body” and then offered them the cup saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many”. They would have been both alarmed and puzzled at Jesus’ words and actions. They could not have immediately fully understood that with this act Jesus was providing them and all humanity to come with the gift of his body and blood.
When the priest elevates the consecrated host above the paten or above the chalice and says, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” we might recall the words of Revelations 19:9 N.A.B.: “Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These words are true; they come from God.” The image of a wedding feast is frequently used in Scripture to describe the Kingdom (Matthew 22:2, 9:15, 25:1-13). When we receive the consecrated bread and wine which are truly the body and blood of Jesus, we are in communion with him; through it our living God spiritually and physically receives us.
The early Church was founded on Jesus’ death and Resurrection, which he anticipated in the gift of his body and blood at the Last Supper (v. 25), so we might even go so far as to say that this meal was the birthplace of the Church.