The blog will be on hiatus while I attend a retreat.
There is as switch starting at verse 51 to the sacrament of the Eucharist. Jesus has not only become flesh but has given His flesh and blood as nourishment to His followers. Together, flesh and blood means the living human being. Baptism, Eucharist and eternal life form a unity for believers. The Bread of Life strengthens believers for the journey whose destiny is eternal life.
With the mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday night, we begin the most sacred Three Day Period in the Church’s Liturgical Year. We call it the Triduum. I urge everyone to attend one or all of the liturgies on these days (especially the Easter Vigil which is the high point of the liturgical year). People assume what we do at these liturgies is a kind of “reenactment” of the historical events, like we do at Christmas.
“Precisely, because these faith-anchoring events are historical, they cannot be repeated or ‘Reenacted.’ That is why the church’s long tradition insists that what happened once in history passes over into the mystery of the assembly’s liturgical/sacramental celebrations. What the paschal triduum actually celebrates is mystery, not history; anamnesis, not mimesis. The liturgies of these days do not ‘take us back’ to the upper room or the path to Calvary. Their ultimate purpose is not to retrace or relive the last hours of Jesus’life- nor to catch sight of Him emerging from the tomb at Easter’s dawning. They celebrate not what once happened to Jesu but what is now happening among us as a people called to conversion, gathered in faith, and gifted with the spirit of holiness. They celebrate God’s taking possession of our hearts at their deepest core, recreating us as a new human community broken like bread for the world’s life-a community rich in compassion, steadfast in hope, and fearless in the search for justice and peace.” “The Three Days of Pascha”
Jesus is risen!
We hear of Judas’ betrayal. There is a letter dated Marc 4, 1797, from George Washington to his wife on the day he left the presidency. He was “cleaning out his desk” throwing papers away when he came across a letter from Tom Paine. They had been good friends but Washington had turned him down for the post of Postmaster General. Paine had called Washington “treacherous.” Washington was deeply hurt by this. Jesus also knew the pain and sorrow of having a close friend turn against him. How do we cope with disappointments and having a close friend turn against us?
Today, we hear the passion as told by St. Luke (the greatest love story of all time!). Why would Jesus suffer and die like this: for love of His Heavenly Father and all human beings. As Psalm 69 puts it: “For Your love is better than life itself.” Out of love and obedience to His heavenly Father, Jesus bore this terrible death. But, the story doesn’t end there, there is the Resurrection and Ascension. “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, Lord, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
The parable of the “Rich Man (no name) and Lazarus=Eleazar=God helps”. Death reveals that wealth is no guarantee of God’s favor. Even in hell, the rich man remains in character: ordering Abraham to order Lazarus to perform services for him. This unique parable from Luke reminds us that we need to live the adage that only concern for others can bring us real security.
Jesus reminds us that He is the “one Loaf” that unites the different factions that exist in the community. To celebrate the Eucharist is a truly genuine way to commit ourselves to that unity.