"Take and eat, this is my Body. Do this in memory of me." Last Supper Reflection from the Holy Land, Holy Thursday, April 5, 2007
By Paul Dion, STL
Today we are celebrating the Last Supper (Passover) of Jesus Christ, according to the narratives of the Synoptic Evangelists. We also carry the Washing of the Feet in our minds and our hearts since it is the Eucharistic vision of Service as envisioned by the Lord Himself.
"Unless you allow me to wash your feet you shall have no part with me."
Lately, I have come to live a dynamic part of my life and have come to an insight about what memory means. I have to tell you about my relationship with my Paternal Grandfather, Joseph. Yes, he was a cabinet maker. He was a one - handed cabinet maker because he sawed his right hand off while he was still young.
My Grandfather was revered by his children in a state of reverential fear. I had no such feelings for him. to me he was a warm and cuddly friend. He was my favorite story teller. He was telling me stories all the time when he wasn't teaching me to read or to play checkers or how to play cards. He never taught me how to do the easy things.
He always talked to me as though I understood everything he said. Even when it was perhaps the third or fourth time I asked about something, he never became impatient with me.
He also never told me stories about his past. I never even asked. The only stories he ever told me regarding someone growing up was Jesus. The only grown-up stories he ever told me were the ones about Abraham, Joseph, Isaac, Noah, Tobias and of course Samson. He told me about the adult Jesus too and His apostles. I repeat, never one single story about his own childhood or adult past.
I am telling you this because ever since I arrived in Jerusalem I have had as much communication with him as with my spouse. Maybe more. Everywhere I turn I see him telling me the story of the Nativity, of the flight to Egypt, of the Last Supper, the gambling for the seamless garment, the crying women of Jerusalem, the entry to the city on an ass being cheered on by a wild crowd. I have a host more of the stories that my grandfather told me, but they are too numerous for this reflection.
The point that I am trying to make here is that my grandfather is not in my past these days. He is so present that I feel him every waking moment. I hear him telling me about that perfidious Peter who lied three times about knowing Jesus even though his accent gave him away.
Last Sunday when the Benedictine monks sang that part of the Gospel in my mother tongue (French) I shed hot tears. My grandfather was shaking with laughter as he often did at that line when Peter lied about his accent. My Joseph would laugh at that because he knew what it meant to have an accent. The few times I heard him speak English, he could never deny that he was French Canadian. He used to choke at the point of the story when Peter denies Jesus for the third time, denying his accent.
During the time when we walked the stations along the Via Dolorosa (The Way of Sorrows/The Way of the Cross), he was there. Look at that dirty Roman, Pilate, condemning Jesus. Veronica, ah Veronica, I should have named one of my daughters Veronica, but we don't have any relatives with that name. Look at her. You be like her. Don't worry about what others will say about you. Just be like her. Help people when they need it.
I am not remembering these things. I am living them. Right now. When Jesus told His disciples to do it in commemoration of Him, He didn't say, "remember it" He said "Live it".
Not in the past but in the Eternal present. Yes, it is possible. My grandfather is proving that to me right now.
We are getting ready to go to the place where Jesus was condemned to death by Pilate. The Cenacle (The Upper Room) is not open for public liturgy. We will participate in the Liturgy. We will live the moment. I will be sitting with my grandfather watching Jesus telling Peter to watch and to learn what Jesus was teaching him (us) with a towel around his waist and a wash basin at the feet of His disciples.
Somehow, I am going to have to take the leasson too. After all, I wouldn't want to disappoint my my Grandfather and His best Buddy, Jesus.
HOLY WEEK FROM THE HOLY LAND SERIES
"Jerusalem, My Jerusalem" - A Holy Week Experience Live from The Holy Land
"JERUSALEM, YOU ARE MINE!" A Holy Week Experience Live from The Holy Land
Who comes to the Holy Land? Why do they come? What does it mean?
JERUSALEM! JERUSALEM! JERUSALEM! - Palm Sunday in the Holy Land
"Do this in memory of me" - Holy Thursday at the Holy Land
"Last Supper Reflection from the Holy Land"
"Jerusalem - Good Friday" - Holy Week from the Holy Land
"Jerusalem Pilgrimage - Holy Saturday," Holy Week from the Holy Land
"Jesus of Galilee, The Nazorean" - The Holy Land Series
"The Dead Sea Comes Alive," The Holy Land Series