Holy Thursday: Eucharist as Re-membrance: A Living Presence - 2017
O Holy One, throughout his life, Jesus revealed that nothing can separate us from Your infinite love. He lived a life of apparent joy in sharing meals with the people of the Galilean countryside. The open table of his public life challenged the discriminatory social code of his time and taught us that all people are to be included as equals in Your kin-dom. May we, like Jesus, continue to open our table, and our lives to all, especially those in need. Amen.
On Being a Eucharistic Community
Meals are the most frequent settings for Gospel stories. They range from informal picnics on hillsides to banquets given by dignitaries. They introduce us to some of the most of diverse and colorful of Gospel characters: a woman with long hair who washes Jesus’ feet, a little boy who has loaves and fishes hidden in the folds of his robe, and a short man, named Zacchaeus, who is about to have an unexpected dinner guest. Meals transport us from the wedding in Cana to a quiet dinner at a little house in Emmaus. They invited us to a party for a prodigal and let a share of a Passover supper with a carpenter’s son.
This theme of inclusivity is one of the benchmark of Jesus’ teaching. Everyone ought to have a place at the table, especially those who have been marginalized. Obviously, this includes many who do not qualify for the guest list–people who have been relegated to the back roads and slums of the towns. When we give a luncheon, we need to make sure that no one who wants to be there is left out. Inclusivity is a Gospel mandate. It is not separate from Sabbath observance, but essential part of it.
These are the inspired words of Fran Ferder & John Heagle
Alleluia: Servant of God, lowly and humble
Show us the way to live a life of love
Gospel according to Mark:
During the meal Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them saying, “Take this and eat, this is my body."
He likewise took a cup, gave thanks and passed it to them, and they all drank from it. Jesus said to them, “This is my blood of the Covenant, which will be poured out on behalf of many. The truth is, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until the day I drink it anew in the kindom of God.” These are the inspired words from the Gospel of Mark.
Homily Starter for Holy Thursday: Mary Theresa Streck
Take and eat, take and drink – these are words we pray weekly. What do they really mean for each of us?
As I was meditating this week on these words, I was thinking about Jesus, sitting there at a meal – very much like the meal we are sharing together during this liturgy. He was with his companions and closest friends on his spiritual journey.
I imagine him looking around the table, knowing that the political scene was becoming intense, wanting to impart to his closest friends the culmination of all that he taught them – asking them not to forget – but to remember.
Take and eat, take and drink – consume and digest me and become all that you have learned from me. My life and all that I have taught you is for your transformation so that you, united with me and with the Holy One, can become co-creators of a new world - a new covenant.
This past week a dear friend sent me a YouTube video interview with Andrew Harvey, writer and mystic. He begins the lecture with a definition of the authentically awake human being. I heard him describing Jesus.
“The authentically awake human being understands that the only purpose for being on the earth is to wake up to one’s divine identity and to live it out.”
And how does this relate to us? We are invited to take and eat and drink of all that we have learned about Jesus, so that we, too, awaken to a clear awareness
- that the Divine Presence permeates everything,
- that we allow this Divine Presence to take over and transform us
- that we confront all of the “dark stuff” that needs to be healed, because what is being asked of us is a massive transformation of everything – the way we think, feel, all of our choices.
Massive transformation that leads to abundance for all of creation, a global resurrection, is not an easy spiritual pathway. It means dying to our destructive ways, deliberately choosing a compassionate way of life.
Listen again to the words of Jesus:
Take and eat, this is my body given for you.
Take this all of you, this is the cup of my life-blood, the life of a new and everlasting covenant. In prophetic solidarity it is poured out for you and for all. Whenever you do this, remember you are called to give of your body and life-blood, to be a servant to those in need.
Today, we will pray these words together. May they be for us what they were for the early followers of Jesus: both an invitation and challenge to transformation.
Eucharistic prayer by Dennis McDonald:
Cosmic Birther of all that is, that was and that will be, we gather as a holy people, called forth to celebrate as companions on the journey of faith. We come to the table of plenty as a community of believers celebrating the dignity of all people and the call to be a voice for our sisters and brothers who are oppressed and exploited.
We celebrate the example provided by our brother, Jesus, who offered hope and new life to all those to whom he ministered. Encouraged by his life and his ministry we sing a song of praise with all of creation.
We are holy, holy holy…. (by Karen Drucker)
We thank you for Jesus, our way to the truth about living.
We recognize our call to continue the ministry of Jesus and commit ourselves to work for justice and peace in the world today. Grant us nourishment as this table providing strength and perseverance as we stand up and speak truth to power.
Empower us with the grace of openness to be accepting of all who join us at the table of blessing as we recall the meals when Jesus gathered with people who hungered for acceptance and sustenance. Let us live lives focused on your bountiful love.
We recall now one of those meals when he had gathered with companions of the journey. Jesus, hoping to lead by example, welcomed them to the table by first washing their feet, a sign of servanthood to be emulated.
They reclined for the meal and Jesus, in the midst of eating, took bread and wine, symbols of nourishment and health, praised the Source of all Being, and blessed and broke the bread. He then passed the bread to them saying,
Take and eat, this is my body given for you. (Share the bread saying, “We are called to welcome others to the table”)
Jesus then lifted the cup, again praised the Source of Life and blessed the cup. He passed it saying,
Take this all of you, this is the cup of my life-blood, the life of a new and everlasting covenant. In prophetic solidarity it is poured out for you and for all. Whenever you do this, remember you are called to give of your body and life-blood, to be a servant to those in need. (Share the cup saying, “We are called to servanthood”.
Nurtured by your word, nourished by your food; Called anew to be your people, we acclaim your praise.
Invocation of the Spirit
We call upon the Spirit to bless and consecrate those gathered here. May the Spirit of justice and compassion transform us so that we may bring love, hope and encouragement to those we meet along the journey.
We pray with our companions who have journeyed before us, both living and dead, that we may create a world in which all can gather at the table of friendship and in unity bring about a world that ends injustice and suffering.
We bring all of these gifts and prayers to you, O Holy One, Source of all that is good and holy, now & forever, Amen.