Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Sacred Three Days

At 5:30 this evening, Holy Thursday, two priests con-celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Supper in our chapel. The reading from Exodus reminded us of the Passover meal, and the blood of the lamb sprinkled over the doorways of the Hebrew households spared them from death as they prepared to flee Egypt. The reading from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians clearly teaches that the bread we eat and the wine we drink are the Body and Blood of Christ. Jesus gave us his Body and Blood to nourish us on our way in life. In Chapter 6 of John's Gospel, Jesus had promised that he would "give us his body as food and his blood as drink". Some people walked away from Jesus then. Jesus did not call out to them and say: "Hey, wait a minute. I meant to just give you a sign, a symbol of my humanity. Come on back. Forget what I just said." No, Jesus was a prophet and not a politician. He spoke the truth because he is The Truth. We believe Jesus' promise to care for us and actually nourish us who believe in his "Real Presence" in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Paul wrote that he received from the Lord what he handed down to us. Tonight we remember that Greatest of Gifts the Eucharist which is so available to millions of us throughout the world. God wired us so that we need to eat about three times a day. So why not feed our soul what it yearns for--that union of our whole self with the whole Self of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Tonight we keep watch with Jesus hidden in the Eucharist. On that first Holy Thursday Jesus went out into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He prayed face down on the ground begging the Father to spare him "the cup" of suffering. He shuddered at the thought that despite his love being poured out for each person, sinners would turn their back on him and reject his love. As John wrote: "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." That moral suffering of being rejected and the thought of bearing all the sins of the world must have weighed on him. Luke tells us that "drops as of blood fell upon the ground" St. Paul said that "He who knew no sin was made sin" as he gave himself up for us. When I meditate on Paul's words, I imagine Jesus being overwhelmed with a huge weight, a weight that is ugly, stinking with the rottenness of dead things, totally abhorrent. Doctors who have studied the Passion believe that Jesus heart even in Gethsemane was broken with sorrow. He begged his Father to spare him from drinking from the chalice of suffering humiliation, ridicule, apathy, scourging, and crucifixion. Yet, his prayer brought him into perfect alignment with the Father: "Not my will, but yours be done."
If you stay up tonight, or for reading tomorrow, take up the New Testament or just the Four Gospels and read the last chapters of each gospel to read and pray over their descriptions of Jesus' suffering or Passion. I leave you to pray in our "garden" set up where Jesus in the Eucharist is surrounded by Sisters and guests who want "to spend one hour" in his Eucharistic presence. Here is the "Garden" where Jesus in hidden in our midst in the small tabernacle prepared with love by our Novices. May the following two days of teh Sacred Threesome, Good Friday and Holy Saturday be grace-filled and peaceful for you.

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