A Holy Thursday reflection:
“Do this in the remembrance of me” (Lk. 22:19).
As 21st Century Christians, we hear these words knowing how the rest of the account goes. We know it literally is the last supper as it’s so often called. For the disciples, they knew something was afoot, no doubt. Jesus had talked about his imminent departure enough for there to be a growing concern. But they didn’t know all the details. Peter exemplifies naive optimism in his commitment to follow Jesus even in death. But this only reveals how Peter and the disciples didn’t really know what lay before them.
And so Jesus’ invitation to remember is a bit puzzling – it comes in a place and at a time of uncertainty. In a sense, the disciples were invited to participate with Jesus while they were still on the way so to speak.
For us, while we know Jesus’ path led to the cross, this last supper calls us to recognize we also follow Jesus from places of uncertainty. While we can confidently place our hope in the promises that Sunday and resurrection bring – unlike the disciples at the actual last supper – much of our experience still relates to a pre-resurrection reality. Uncertainty – characterized here in the last supper and Jesus’ impending death – still occupies much of our experience:
Struggles with health.
Struggles with sin.
Struggles with personal direction and purpose.
Struggles with perseverance in our faith.
Struggles with relationships.
We see through the naivety of Peter’s commitment and question, “Really God? Follow you to the cross? There is too much uncertainty!”
But it’s right in this place of uncertainty that Jesus offers his invitation: “This is my body…this is my blood of the new covenant…eat and drink in remembrance of me.”
Remembrance – commitment to following Jesus as his first disciples did – happens in the midst of our uncertainty, not in spite of or only with our overcoming it.
The first last supper reminds us that we participate – fellowship, commune – with Jesus from this place of uncertainty – an uncertainty that extends into Good Friday and the cross. Like the first disciples, we respond to Jesus not once we have it all together, but on the way. Ours is a remembrance on the way...