Maundy Thursday 2019 Meditation
Maundy Thursday 2019
14 When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. 15 He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (
I woke up this morning particularly hungry. Why am I so hungry
? I thought to myself. Then I remembered that I had spent yesterday meeting with a person who barely eats. When lunch appeared through the graciousness of my executive assistant, my assistant placed the food before us, then cut the chicken that I thought might be nice for our guest. She carefully served our guest and then me. As she served his plate, I noticed the grimace on his face. I thought he might not like chicken, but I quickly learned that the man just does not eat! I, on the other hand, love to eat!
Both of our plates held small amounts of food, so when I finished what was on my plate I got up and served myself a little bit more. His eyes followed me as I served up more chicken on my very empty plate, and then looked directly at my plate as I sat back down across the table from him. I was glad I had gotten only a little bit more, embarrassed by the fact that by that time I was on my second plate while he had barely touched his.
After a long day I wasn’t up to preparing much dinner. I ate what I could grab out of the refrigerator, continued to read the Bible passages related to Holy Week, prayed, and went to bed. This morning I was hungrier than usual.
I read scripture and pray with my cup of coffee first thing in the morning. As I opened up my bible to read today’s passage, my hungry stomach spoke before my brain could react. Today we eat with Jesus,
my stomach said to my yet sleepy brain! Being hungry led me to a deeper engagement with scripture.
As I read the holy text of that last Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples, I had vivid thoughts about all the delicious foods on Jesus’ table. Experts say that the meal might have included dried figs; honey; olive oil; cholent, a stewed dish of beans cooked very low and slow; olives with hyssop, an herb with a mint-like taste; bitter herbs with pistachios; a date charoset, a chunky fruit and nut paste; roasted lamb; and of course unleavened bread; and wine. If it was a Seder meal it would have included other foods related to the ritual of this meal that recalls the exodus from Egypt and slavery of the Israelites.
Whatever foods were on the table of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, the sharing of the unleavened bread and the cup of wine, symbols of Jesus’ body broken and his blood shed for all of us, would feed their hunger for the rest of their lives. Even Judas, the betrayer, would remember this meal.
Today I am reminded of why it is important to fast. Fasting allows us to give our full attention to God. The time for preparing food and eating is given over to prayer, the reading of scripture, and just being silent before God so that we can hear his voice. But today I have also learned that it is good to be hungry as we consider and prepare to come to Christ’s table. How fortunate we are to be fed by the very hand of Christ.
I don’t ignore the fact that there are those among us who have no food and thus struggle to live. We must continue to find every good way to help them in a spirit of humanity –
but even more, in the knowledge that God expects us to love and care for one another. But I write to you those who are reading this on technological gadgets, and thus who most likely also have enough to eat.
I pray that as we participate in Holy Communion on this Maundy Thursday, we would contemplate what we hunger for and bring it before Christ our Lord as we come to his table. Let us consider what it means to be fed by Christ, who gives his all to feed the hunger of our souls. With the disciples at that first sacred table, I believe that Christ will satisfy our deepest hunger.
Today we eat with Jesus! Thanks be to God!
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño