Father Nicholas Lang
Today we have all been invited to dinner. This is the anniversary of Jesus' last day in the life his friends had experienced with him for the three years of his ministry. He did not spend it in solitude or even in deep prayer with God, nor among the crowds teaching and healing but rather with his friends, around a table, sharing bread and wine.
And here we are, invited to be among his circle of friends, to hear the words he said that night repeated as they have been since that night all around the world, to eat the holy food and drink he offers us, to rekindle the memory of what he gave us, what he taught us on that night so very long ago.
On Maundy Thursday we remember the two commandments Jesus gave us. With a basin of water and a towel and in bread and wine we learn the power of the Gospel to transform the world as it is manifested by the example of Jesus’ self-giving love. Maundy means “command” and on this night Jesus commanded us to love one another. He didn’t give us rules or laws. He showed us the way to live a fuller, richer life by doing simple, ordinary things in service to one another and in his name.
This Eucharist today is the annual remembrance of Jesus’ Last
Supper with his intimate friends and later we will recall the words he prayed over bread and wine more than t
wo thousand years ago. By the power of the Holy Spirit which is present within the church as he promised it would be, and in what is a mystery of faith, bread and wine will again become for us his Body and Blood, and we will eat together the Mystical Supper that nurtures us through this life's journey—a meal that has been relived again and again over the centuries since that sacred night.
On the wall in my office some years ago, hung a framed prayer written by the late Bishop of Zanzibar. It speaks to the essence of what this sacred day is truly about: “You are Christians,” begins this prayer, “then your Lord is one and the same with Jesus on the throne of glory, with Jesus in his blessed Sacrament, with Jesus received into your hearts in Communion, with Jesus who is mystically with you as you pray, and with Jesus enshrined in the hearts and bodies of his brothers and sisters up and down the world.
“Now go out into the highways and hedges, and look for Jesus in the raged and naked, in the oppressed and sweated, in those who have lost hope, and in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus in them; and when you find him, gird yourselves with his towel of fellowship, and wash his feet in the person of his brethren.”
Today we have been invited to dinner. It is a meal of promise and hope that by taking in our hands the Bread and the Cup we will be fed with the Body and Blood of the One who died for us and given the grace to go back into the world with a resolve to love one another as he loved us, to serve one another as he served us, to see beyond the facade, the exterior appearance of each person we meet and look for Christ's presence in our midst