Friday, February 2, 2007

7. Jesus Shares a Sign of Hope with His Friends

“(Jesus) always loved those who were his own in the world. When the time came for him to be glorified by you, his heavenly Father, he showed the depth of his love” (Eucharistic Prayer IV).

As he approached his last days Jesus wanted to leave his followers a sign and symbol of what he was going to do for them through his Passion, Death and Resurrection. And so, “on the night he was betrayed, he took bread and gave you thanks and praise…When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise …”

Why bread? Why wine? Because they were simple, ordinary things there on the table that could represent something broken and spilled. Breaking bread looks like breaking a body. Pouring wine looks like spilling blood.

At the Last Supper Jesus made these simple things and these simple actions the centerpiece of a ceremony that portrayed his suffering and death ritually. He wanted to keep this ceremony simple so that his friends could easily remember the actions and meaning of what he was doing and so repeat it when he was no longer with them: “Whenever you do this, do this in memory of me.”

Of course, we believe that the Eucharist is not only sign and symbol but also the reality of what he did for us, Jesus Really Present each time we celebrate the Eucharist together. As we participate in the Eucharist, it is important to remember these core actions and their meaning, to watch for them, and engage our imaginations and hearts as the bread and wine are consecrated, broken and poured, and distributed to those present. In particular, remember that this sign of hope gives each one of us hope in the concrete details of our daily lives.

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