44. The Last Supper
Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday as it is known in Britain, is the day when we remember the Last Supper of Jesus. The Last Supper is usually taken as being a Jewish Passover celebration with some very special additions from Jesus. In John’s Gospel there is a long talk to his disciples about who he is, plus an illustration of serving others through the example of his humbly washing their feet. The other three Gospels focus on the meal with Jesus taking the bread and saying “This is my body” and the wine saying “this is my blood.” Jesus offers the bread of his body to eat and the wine of his blood to drink, with the instructions to ‘do this in memory of me’.
To take Jesus Christ body and spirit into ourselves in our commemoration of this Last Supper is a very powerful and significant event. Maybe in the Catholic Church with its daily Eucharist it is difficult to constantly retain a sense of the awesome significance of this event. Interestingly, Ignatius took six months after his ordination before he felt ready celebrate his first Eucharist.
He celebrated it on Christmas day in the basilica of St Mary Major in Rome, close by the relic of the crib of Jesus. For Ignatius, his first Mass had to be something very special and memorable.
A Thought to ponder
Today you might like to pray with the story from Luke’s gospel or the washing of the disciple’s feet you will find in John 13:1-14.
You may well ask for the gift of understanding and feeling the importance of the Last Supper – Eucharist – in your life of faith.
Scripture for the Day
As a way of praying today’s Scripture we suggest Imaginative Contemplation.
Luke 22:7-20 NRSVACE
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.
So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’
They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for it?’
‘Listen,’ he said to them, ‘when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, “The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’” He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.’
So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.
He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’
Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves;
for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’
Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’
And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying,
‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’
Music for Today
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