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Thursday, April 9, 2009

At the Table

Holy Thursday is my favorite of all days in the Church year. I love the whole Mass, the washing of the feet, the breaking of the bread, the beloved disciple resting his head on Jesus' chest, the betrayal - I love the whole story, the whole mystery.

Every year I reflect on some different part of the Holy Thursday traditions, some years I've tried my hardest to "stay awake" with Christ while he agonizes in the garden, some years I reflect on whether or not I would deny him three times, other years I've spent time thinking about the ways I was Judas.

This year I'm finding myself thinking about being at the table. I think that is my greatest desire, to be at the table with Christ. I want to be a part of that moment, the moment that we "re-present" each Sunday. I wonder at times if the Apostles knew this would be their last "good" moment with Jesus. Did they savor every morsel, did they hang on his every word, did they take it all in so they could never forget that day?

When Jesus took the bread and broke it, saying "take this all of you and eat this bread." Did any of them have chills realizing that this meal was different than all the meals they had enjoyed with him before? Did they know that what was being shared in that moment would last forever and would be done over and over again all through history?

The truth is I don't have to wonder what it would be like to be sitting at that table with Jesus and His Apostles. I am at the table with them every time I go to Mass, and so are you. Each time we go to Mass we participate in that last supper, we are invited to sit at the table with Jesus' closest friends and to "take the bread and eat it."

So I think to myself, well if I am at the table with them, which one of the Apostles do I most closely represent?
- Am I John - the beloved disciple - resting my head on Christ's chest?
- Or am Thomas, wanting to believe all that Jesus is saying but still holding out for proof?
- Am I Peter - the eager servant who knows he will get it right, but in truth will fail three times?
- Or worse, am I Judas, selling my Lord for 30 pieces?

Truth be told, I think I'm all of them. In many moments I am His faithful servant, waiting at His chest, allowing Him to love me. Then there are times when I'm just not sure, "is He really going to get me through this? Will He really be risen?" Oh for the times I have denied his name in simple and big ways. I think of the times when someone has brought up their disregard for a Church teaching or made a comment about our beliefs and I have simply remained silent, even when they've asked my opinion. Have I betrayed Jesus - sadly I must "confess to almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do" - yes I have betrayed Him many times. I have sold my Lord for 30 pieces.

Yet, I am still sitting there by his side taking His flesh and blood and taking in His words. I am constantly amazed at how no matter what I do He still calls me by His grace to come to the table and take part in that great mystery of the Last Supper again and again.

I imagine that when Peter heard that Jesus had indeed risen he was a little nervous to see him, because he had indeed denied him. Yet, Jesus loved him just the same. Same still with Thomas who still doubted, Jesus did not rebuke him, rather he invited him to see the proof. I wonder about Judas, what if he hadn't committed suicide, would Christ have welcomed him back to the table.

Just as he welcomes you and I and all sinners to sit at the table I believe that Judas would be sitting there too if he had only turned his face back to Christ.

Today, you and I are invited to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples and to take the bread and eat it, and to drink the cup - as they are transformed into His Body and Blood and we are transformed into His faithful disciples.

"Come, and sit at the table, and I will give you rest." (cf. Matt 11:28)