Thursday, April 5, 2012

Maundy Thursday

Psalm 102Lamentations 2:10-18 • 1 Corinthians 10:14-17, 11:27-32Mark 14:12-25

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10-16)

The day’s old light is dying now, bleeding in through the windows cut into the walls of the upper room where we have gathered. Orange squares stretch out across the mat on which the elements of the Pesach Seder are carefully arranged – bitter herbs, cups of wine, matza bread, and the lamb. In the dark, following the sun’s burial behind the Judean hills, Mary lights the lamps to mark the beginning of the first day of Pesach – Passover. And as we eat, we recall with wistful words the story of our ancestors’ liberation from bondage in Egypt, and how – on this night – the angel of death passed over the houses that bore on their lintels the blood of the lamb.

During the meal, the wine and food carry us away from the anxieties of the past days. However, as Jesus takes into his hands the afikomen – the last piece of matza – something in his countenance quiets our raucous banter. He speaks, and his words waft through the warm air weighed heavy with the smell of roasted lamb: “This is my body.”

 Holding a piece of the blessed and broken matza, our senses reject the Lord’s words – this looks, feels, smells, tastes like bread. Still in the silence after he speaks, his words begin to transubstantiate us, first our hearts and then our souls and bodies – Mortal, eat what is offered you; eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it (Ezekiel 3:1-3). So we eat . . . and are consumed.

What sense can our senses make when they are not consumed by desire for the Word of truth? What more can our words be but webs of power and weapons for the Pharaohs and Emperors of every age by which others are kept enslaved unless our words are liberated by the Word of God? What nourishment can bread and wine bring to a world under the dominion of death unless it is the flesh and blood of the Lamb?

— Nicholas Forti

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