Holy Thursday 2014 – The Last Supper was not a Supper

As a priest I have had to move a lot.   Every time it is announced that I am moving – many people will invite me to come and visit them for  a sort of “good bye” meal at their home.


Often we think of the Last Supper in these terms – Jesus realises that He is going to die and wants to share one last meal with His friends before He goes.   Classical artwork of the Last Supper might give us the impression of an intimate festive meal.


However, this misses what was really happening at the Last Supper.  The Last Supper was not a regular meal, but the Passover meal – it was more a religious ceremony than a meal.  There was an order to the night, special prayers to be said and readings from scripture.   The Passover was a special kind of religious ceremony – called a “memorial”  It was meant first and foremost to remember the events of the Exodus – how God saved the people of Israel from slavery, how he spared the First born sons.   But for the Jewish people a “memorial” was more than just remembering an event that happened a long time ago – it was to “re-live” it over again – to experience it as it was really happening.   As they ate the bitter herbs, the experienced the bitterness of slavery – as they drank the wine they remember the promises of God to Moses,  as they listened to the Exodus story being told they felt as if the event was occurring in their presence – in this very moment they were being liberated from slavery.


The Last Supper was a Jewish religious ceremony and during this ceremony Jesus chooses to start a NEW religious ceremony –  He does something different – hidden in the form of Bread and Wine, he gives to his disciples his Body and Blood which he is about to offer on the cross the next day.   At the end of the meal he says: “Do this in memory of me” or more literally “Do this as MY MEMORIAL”   During the Jewish memorial of Passover, Jesus creates a new memorial – the Holy Eucharist.   During this night when the people of Isreal relived the Exodus – their liberation from slavery, Jesus gives us the Holy Euchraist to relive his Passion, death and resurrection.


Often we can speak of the going to holy Mass to “Celebrate our Faith”  What does it mean?   Are we coming to celebrate the fact we have faith?  Are we celebrating what Jesus did for us – he died, he rose again?

We come to Mass to do more than merely – “celebrate” – we come to relive the mysteries of Jesus Christ.


We don’t just remember that Jesus healed the blind man – who didn’t know what was going on around him – but when we come to Mass we are blind – we’re not exactly sure want is going on around us – Jesus touches our eyes, Jesus lets us see. We don’t just hear Jesus teaching – Jesus is here teaching, us, helping us to love, to pray.  We don’t just remember that Jesus died on the cross for our sakes – he is hear and gives his body and blood up for us.   Like Mary accepted and offered her son to the Father – we place our lives on the altar and offer them to the Father. Just as Jesus shared friendship with his apostles after rising from the dead – the risen Lord is with us in Holy Communion.  As he sent our his disciples to cast out demons and heal the sick and share his teaching – he also sends us out into our world to do the same.


En la misa no solo recordamos los acontecimentos de la vida de Jesus – vivimos nuevamente estas misterias.   Durante la misa Jesus viene a sanarnos, a ensenarnos como rezar como amar como alcanzar la santidad.    No solo recordamos que Jesus murió y resucito para nosotros – estamos bajo de la cruz con Maria y Juan, Jesus resucitado esta con nosotros en la comunión, Jesus nos envía al mundo para ensenar y bautizar.


When we come to Mass we do not just celebrate our faith – we relive the mystery of Jesus Christ.   Jesus gave us the Mass not to be a celebration.  It is a memorial – he is not saying good bye – he is making sure that he is with us forever.