Today is Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday. The day when Christ celebrated the Passover with His disciples–the Last Supper. Tonight He instituted what may be the most sacred of the sacraments–Holy Communion, the Eucharist. He took bread, took wine, and declared them His body and blood, the things by which we are saved.
This year I read an absolutely amazing book about the Last Supper and how it didn’t really end until Christ died on the cross, called The Fourth Cup by Scott Hahn. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in that Passover meal and the new covenant and communion. But it began by touching on something we all have to know and remember that comes to us from the days of Moses.
The Passover was not “remembered” every year. It was REpresented. It was lived anew. The words said, the rituals, the tradition was not just meant to teach or instruct, it was telling each person at each meal, “You were there too. We were all there. This is what God did for YOU and for ME and for US as a people.” You can see that in the words of Moses himself, not only when he first hands down the law, but when he is giving it again to the people about to enter the promised land.
Those people were not the same people who had left Egypt–that’s very clear. Every single member over twenty years old of that original generation had to die in the next forty years, so a fresh people, a people who had not doubted, had not worshipped the golden calf, could be the ones to take the land. But when Moses is giving his final address, he wording is so very pointed. When you were there, he says time and again. When God did this for you. You saw the plagues.
They didn’t–not literally. But as he speaks those words, he’s teaching them that our God is not bound by time. That our God is king of all creation, all ages. Our Lord did His work for them just as surely as for their parents and grandparents. It needs to be more than a memory–it needs to be the reality, ever present in their hearts and minds. They need to be there. They need to know it’s more than words, that by taking part in that ceremony, they are in fact living it with their ancestors. It isn’t just a representation, it’s a RE-presentation. It’s happening again for them…or rather, it’s drawing them back to that original happening. The event isn’t repeating, the participants are instead defying space and time and partaking of the original. This is the odd reality that Moses speaks to the new generation, and it was the understanding carried forth from that day all the way to the day of Jesus and beyond.
This is the same lesson we need to learn when it comes to Christ’s Passover. When we eat the bread and drink the cup of the new covenant, we aren’t just doing it in memory–we’re doing it knowing that the same truth that saved the people alive in His day, watching Him on the cross, saves us too. Because His work is not bound by time or space, and each occasion of the Eucharist is, like the Passover was for the Jews, a REpresenting. It isn’t happening again, but it is pulling us back into that first time it happened. We are partaking of the original, the one and only, the complete and perfect sacrifice.
That is the miracle of our God. The miracle we rely on when we place our faith in a Man who lived two thousand years ago but somehow saved us. The miracle we embrace when we said He did the work of salvation “once and for all”–that doesn’t mean one finite action that began and ended, like our idiom might indicate. It means once, forever, for all of us. It means it’s continually working, because we are continually partaking, because it’s an action outside of the confines of time.
This is the cup of Christ. The work of the cross. The cup of salvation poured out as His blood. The cup we are invited to drink from, not so that we remember but so that we become part of it. We become the people escaping Egypt; we become the people entering the Promised Land; we become the disciples watching from beneath the cross; we become the women at the empty tomb.
We become His.
These are such beautiful thoughts. It’s interesting because we have a new younger Pastor of our church who has been here for over a year. Our prior pastor had been here for 35 years and was much beloved. He sadly passed away this year.
Because we have an older church community, many of our parishioners, including myself, had a difficult time adjusting to his new ways of doing things. As time went on, I realized and made that same analogy that he was now leading us to the Promised Land. As a result, I know I became really open to our new Pastor because he has the same goal as our prior Pastor but is manifesting it in his ways and traditions and that should be our focus as a parish community. I even sent that analogy to him because I really wanted him to feel that he would be embraced by the parish community but it might take some time. Unfortunately, some people left our church because they focused on our beloved Pastor and not on our mission as Catholics. I really love our new Pastor because his traditions have increased my faith and spirituality because he is an excellent speaker and teaches us and leads us by his words and actions. I had been a Lector for 7 years and had to give it up because of work and travel commitments plus COVID changed things for a while. When we were able to return to physical attendance, I volunteered to be a Lector again because our new Pastor reminded me about what our faith should be all about. I also participated in the Bible in a year study that was offered in the Halli application. I finally learned about what I was reading and what it meant. I try to pass the importance of the words in the Bible on to the parishioners when I say the Scriptural readings slowly and with emphasis when required. I can only hope that other people will eventually be enriched in their faith and focus not on comparisons between Pastors but on how he is leading us through words and actions. We are having our First Living Stations of the Cross tomorrow with some of the youth of the parish playing them out. I also excited to see how it goes. I talked to a couple of altar servers who will be participating and they are so excited to be doing this. They represent the future of our Church and faith. I apologize for this lengthy comment but I felt compelled to share especially during this Sacred Tridium. When attending Mass, I now feel that I have learned to participate in the Mass with my heart and soul and not just be a attendee who goes just to fulfill an obligation. May all of you have a Blessed Easter! Thanks, Roseanna, for your ministry and sharing it with us. We should continue to grow in our faith.
I love Scott Hahn’s book! Highly recommend it! Actually, I highly recommend all his books. ❤️ Thank you, Roseanna, and may you and your loved ones have a holy Triduum beautiful, blessed Easter!
Thank you for this, well said.