A Cycle – Holy Thursday 23
After His triumphant entry into Jerusalem Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples. Tonight, during this liturgy, we remember what happened in that upper room and what happened after they left the room. We celebrate what we celebrate at all our liturgies, his passion, his death and his resurrection. We just do that with an intense focus on what it accomplished for us. These few days we will recount his agony in the garden, his betrayal. Tomorrow, his trial, and crucifixion. We will for one day have an empty tabernacle and a bare altar as we remember his death and burial. This night, during the mass of the Lord’s Supper, we have more than enough theology for us to unpack and absorb. All of it because we must ultimately appropriate the sacrifice of Jesus into what will form our relationship with Christ for the rest of our lives here on earth.
For all the other days of the year, we live outside that upper room in the “real” world of pain, suffering, joy, and wonder. Unfortunately for most Christians the upper room experience does not extend beyond the washing of the disciples feet and the institution of the Eucharist. Because as Catholics we shy away from reading the scriptures. Without encountering Jesus in the scriptures, we fail to hear Jesus talking about the Holy Spirit and how it is that Spirit who will be the source of our spiritual lives. Jesus tells us it is that Spirit who will reveal to us and help us remember all Jesus said and did during his ministry on earth.
But more than just remembering the words and deeds of Jesus, the Spirit will make those words and deeds alive for us. The kingdom of heaven will no longer be a place of our destination after death because the Spirit will help us discover the kingdom of heaven Jesus came to establish on earth. God’s kingdom will become a reality for Jesus said “we will do the works of Jesus and far greater because He will send the Spirit to us.”
The final words of Jesus at that table were “get up let us go from here.” He rose and began the journey for which He had come to fulfill. What about us and our destiny? Are we dependent on the Holy Spirit speaking to us so that we only do what the Father has prepared for us or are we the drivers of our spiritual lives?
Are we listening to the promptings of the Spirit or are we following our own promptings? This night we are receiving our graduation papers. We have like the disciples been invited to walk with Jesus and now He is telling us we will no longer have Him as our “teacher.” But instead of leaving us orphans He is sent the Spirit to us who will be with us always. Jesus tells us it is to our advantage that He is going to the Father because the Spirit will then come to us and guide us, teach us, mold us, transform us and open our minds to understand and apply the teaching of Jesus to our lives.
Jesus is without a doubt God’s gift to us and His answer to our sin. But He came to be more than our savior He came to unite us to the Father thus allowing us to feel, yes feel deep within us the depth of the Father love for us. A love that disregards our sin because God created us and gave us the capacity to love in that same way.
This night is not just a remembrance of Jesus’s presence with us and His mission to reconcile us to the Father. No, it is the night we realize the “Promise of the Father” to change us is ours if only we trust, believe and open ourselves to receive it.
The promise made to us by God to change our hearts and give us back what we lost through the sin of Adam, to restore our heritage of holiness and our right standing before God. I invite you to do more than remember the institution of the Eucharist. I invite you to read John’s account of the upper room in his gospel chapters 13 through 17 and discover the gift of salvation, of anointing, and of discipleship.