This is my body...

Maundy Thursday

It was a night like any other.  But it was also a night like no other.  A night so richly lived that it still lives today.  A night so important in their lives that they drank in the details so deeply that every word, every movement, every action became a part of them.  It came to define them.  It became an experience that defined them for others around them and through the generations, but it also was an experience that would cause them to redefine themselves.

Before I became a priest, I studied the words of the Eucharist.  I studied the ways I was to move, the tone of voice that it required, the options for what could be said, what could be sung, what could be recited together in unison.  What each decision, however small, meant for crafting worship.

I wonder if Jesus thought about it.  I wonder if these powerful, evocative images had been welling up in him for days.  Weeks?  Maybe hours?  Perhaps, in the emotion of all that was brewing in the city around them, these welling words simply spilled out.  Perhaps the emotion pushed them over the edge: out of him and into the world.

Or maybe it came to him in a flash.  He could feel the humming energy of the city.  He could sense its danger.  Maybe he knew that these warnings that he’d been giving his friends for so long were finally coming into reality.  “The Son of Man must be lifted up.”  “Take up your cross and follow me.”  “I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves.”  “About that day and hour, no one knows.”  He’d sensed it for so long – understood it, even – but maybe as his suffering grew imminent, he saw the familiar bread and the ordinary wine with new eyes.

“This is my body.”  Built in the normal way.  Grown in the earth.  Ground into flour.  Baked into bread.  And just like this bread, my body will be broken.

“This is my blood.” Lovingly tended.  Carefully cultivated.  The sum of life in so many forms.  In some ways, even a living thing in itself.  Soon it will spill.

So, when you encounter these normal things, remember that time you encountered another normal thing – me.  Remember that normal isn’t always just normal.  The ordinary can be extraordinary.  You can be, too.

It was a night like any other; but it was a night like no other.

On Maundy Thursday we are invited to bask in that night.  As Eucharistic people, we celebrate the Eucharist all the time.  So much so, that sometimes we can forget how remarkable it truly is.  But this gift – this Great Thanksgiving – ties us to the Christ whom we worship; the Christ after whom we pattern our lives; this Christ in whom we place our trust; this Christ who, even at the grave, will embody hope.  In the Holy Eucharist, Christ is not far away.  In the Holy Eucharist, Christ is not long ago.  Christ is here – in our very presence.

Listen to those words: “I give you a new commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Follow that example: submit yourself to humbly serving the people around you.  Pray.  Study and reflect on the work of God in the world.  And take in sustenance for all that lies ahead.

It’s all important.

But most of all, for tonight, bask in this moment.  Make it a point to notice and to remember how important this is.

It’s the last night of the world: a new world is dawning.  Don’t miss it.