The disciple unlocked the door. The small group of faithful walked in and sat around the table. The room was dimly lit, cold, and drab by all appearances. It was reminiscent of that first night, while He was still among them. He unpacked the few belongings for the supper while graciously overhearing the conversation of the others.
Barnabas brought food to the widows and orphans. Samantha visited the lepers and prayed with them for several days. Thomas preached the Gospel two towns over and brought fifteen new catechumens into the church. Jesus’ memory had not faded. It was moments like this He felt most near; although he would readily admit long nights and even longer days when their Teacher felt more like a distant memory.
“Amen, my brothers and sisters.”
Those gathered around the table quieted down.
“Thank you for coming.” He looked intently at each of them then proceeded. “I’m glad to see you all safe, and by the stories, full of the Spirit and successful in all your journeys. Let us give thanks.”
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath to center his memory, taking in the musty stale air and breathing it out through his mouth. He could see Jesus as though He were sitting at table with them. Slowly he moved his hand to the piece of unleavened bread, its texture rough; its weight light. He lifted it with two fingers for all to see, “As Jesus said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'” As he tore off pieces and handed to those present his mind could only see the crucified Lord at the final hour.
Keeping his eyes closed he reached for the cup as he remembered Jesus had done. He raised it up slightly and repeated what He had said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this in remembrance of me.” The disciple then took the cup and distributed it to those around the table.
When all had consumed they sat in silence. The disciples could feel the presence of the Lord, as though He had breathed on them.
“Peace be with you,” the disciple said.
“And with your spirit,” the others responded.
“Let us pray as he taught us.” Their voices rose to the heavens like incense and their hearts were filled with consolation and strength.
The time had come to depart each their separate ways. They discussed where they were going and what they were going to do. Their missions inspired. Their voices energetic and full of love. The span of time they spent together felt like minutes. Soon they exited the room out into the late afternoon sun each in their own direction — some in pairs others alone. They planned to reunite in two months time. God willing they will all be back to share their stories and share in the last supper.
During the Passion and Holy Thursday we meditate on the Last Supper. In the Gospel of the Passion we read, “Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father…so, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He…began to wash the disciples’ feet…when he had washed their feet…he said to them…’I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do'”(John 13:1-15).
Jesus was fully aware. He knew exactly what was to transpire. He knew that in only a few hours the Passion would commence. His disciples would fall away. Lies would be told. Mobs would foment. Blood would be spilled. Death would come. But it would not be the final outcome. As Jesus had predicted over the course of His ministry, He had come to conquer death. So that the meaning would not be lost he set an example of servant leadership. The King of Glory washed his disciples feet. He formalized the liturgy of His Passion through the Last Supper so that when the chaos had subsided, when he had risen from the dead, everything would start to make sense and aware that the Holy Spirit would soon follow, Jesus knew the disciples would know what to do.
It’s easy to take for granted the Eucharistic prayers recited every Sunday. What must it have been like for the first few generation of disciples? We can only imagine. Perhaps we can listen to the liturgy as though we were an early Christian and allow the prayers bring to our memory Jesus’ passion and what He has really done — redeemed us.