Sunday, May 30, 2021

A Secret Mission Before The Last Supper: A Reflection on Corpus Christi Sunday

Wally and I were invited to share a reflection on our parish blog on the Mass readings for Corpus Christi Sunday.

Jesus gives strange instructions to his disciples in this Sunday’s Gospel reading:

“Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him.” 

Why would a man be carrying a jar of water? Only women carried jars of water. Yet with Jerusalem crowded for Passover, a man with a water jar would be an easy target to find and follow without any personal interaction.

Wherever [the man] enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ 

Why vaguely refer to The Teacher? Why not say Jesus wants a guest room for Passover? Jesus knows his time is short. There's a warrant out for his arrest, and anyone aware of his location has been ordered to report him to the chief priests and Pharisees (John 11:57).

Through these secret arrangements, Jesus ensures his safety just long enough to eat the Passover meal with his disciples before He is killed. He institutes a new Sacred Tradition, giving himself completely to his disciples through the simplicity of bread and wine:

"While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many." 

Though Jesus is arrested later that night and crucified the next day, He resurrects from the dead in a glorified body just three days later. And because two faithful disciples were successful in their mission to secretly arrange for Jesus to celebrate the Last Supper before his death, we receive Jesus’ resurrected, glorified body each time we receive Communion.

Why would Jesus offer us such a humbling gift? In the words of St. Thomas Aquinas:

"It is the law of friendship that friends should live together… Christ has not left us without his bodily presence in this our pilgrimage, but he joins us to himself in this sacrament in the reality of his body and blood" 

Do I believe Jesus longs for friendship with me? How can our friendship grow through Holy Communion?

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