Corpus Christi B
How would God let us know we are loved? He chose the best possible way in sending his son, an incarnation of the Word now taking flesh. It is in this way that Jesus becomes the translator of divine love, bringing into our daily lives and promising a future far beyond it. But as the threat grows to his own brief life, Jesus needs another way to speak perfectly of God’s grace, a way that will outlive his time on earth, a way to sustain this moment of love and self-donation forever.
How would Jesus let us know that we are loved? He would do it with his friends, those who followed him and witnessed tremendous deeds of power, who heard stunning and beautiful words; those who had journeyed, laughed and cried with him and now grow fearful as the specter of death casts its shadow upon him. He would share one last gift with those with whom he had shared everything.
How would Jesus show his love? He would do it in the context of a meal for they were always eating. Table fellowship meant more then. They say Jesus was killed for eating with the wrong people, for eating with sinners beneath his station. It was understood that eating together was a sign of acceptance, an unbreakable bond, a true intimacy. It would be done at a meal where that friendship would be imbued with forever.
And he would do it on the holiest night of the year, the night when Israel was freed from the clutches of cruel slavery in Egypt. It was a night of liberation. It was the night of a covenant, the night when God’s promises would be fulfilled. And it was also a night of prayer for the entire Seder is a long prayer of thanksgiving and remembrance. Just as Jesus’ life was but a prayer, always in communion with his Father, always seeking greater communion with those around him. He prayed that night for all of them and for all of us.
He would do it with bread for bread had always been a part of Israel’s story. There was holy bread in the Temple and the manna that fell from heaven and sustained Israel for forty years in the desert. But it was more than that. It is bread that the hungry yearn for that is the difference between life and death. It is the staple and symbol of humanity. He would also do it with wine, the great gift of celebration and consolation which lifts our spirits and is a taste of divine. Jesus would bring together the bread and the wine, he who was both fully human and divine.
To let us know we are loved, he would invest himself into that bread and pour himself into that wine. This is a second incarnation for here the bread takes on his flesh. He is truly and really present, soul and divinity. He had to be for they were falling apart. Rumors of betrayal and predictions of denial swirl around the room. He needs to bring them together. “This is my body. This is my blood.” Only the real Jesus could keep them together.
For it was a meal of sacrifice, the shadow of the cross hung over the Lord and his disciples. He was showing them what love looked like at a meal before he would show them perfectly on the cross. The next day he would give his body, the next day his blood would be poured again. He asked them to remember. “Do this in memory of me.” A memory that would sear. A memory that would recall all that Jesus was and all that Jesus did. A living memory of perfect love.
Ultimately, it became a meal of glory for the resurrected body was to recall that last supper with his friends, especially on the road to Emmaus when they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. It is not just the sacrifice we taste, but the triumph of the glorified Christ who conquered death and promised to be with us always.
How would God show us that we are loved? In just a few minutes he will do it again. Once again, Jesus has gathered his friends, those who have followed him and witnessed his impact on their lives. Of course it is at a meal where intimacy is created and in this time when it is so hard to gather our families around the table, here our family is gathered around Jesus. He chooses a holy day for each Sunday is a little Easter where we celebrate his triumph over death. It is the day of our liberation and promises fulfilled in a new covenant. And we come in together in prayer, not just mine, but the prayer of every one of us that this remarkable transformation of bread and wine will occur.
And he will come to be present in this bread and wine. He will give us his body and blood, giving all that he has again and again because that is what lovers do. And he will have to be really present because we have a tendency to fall apart and need healing and reconciliation that is only possible because of the perfect sacrifice on Calvary. We do this memory of him. It is not a distant wisp of a memory but something real, something re-presented so that Jesus Christ is alive and present to us in this moment. And this moment is one of glory that creates a communion of saints so that we are brought nearer to our deceased loved ones more than any moment as we both bask in the love of God. It is a communion that draws us together forming bonds so complete that we become the body of Christ, ready to transform the world in his name, in his justice and in his peace. And it is a communion with God, where mere humanity is given a part in divinity.
That is how God lets us know we are loved.