Thursday of Holy Week: Taken, Broken, Blessed & Given
"When they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take this is my body." Then he took a cup and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many." - Mark 14:22-24
Today is Maundy Thursday. We call it "Maundy" Thursday because the ancient church mothers and fathers connected it to Jesus' "mandate" to his disciples on this day of Holy Week to "love one another as I have loved you."
This is also the day we remember Jesus celebrating Passover with his closest friends--what Christians call "The Last Supper."
Jesus loved a good party. If you read through the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life you will find that every other chapter he's sitting down to dinner with one group of people or another.
As he gathered with the twelve disciples on Thursday of Holy Week, Jesus did something that he'd done before when he miraculously fed five thousand-plus people on the hills above Galilee:
He took, blessed, broke and gave.
When he fed the multitude, he took the food that was already there among the people, and blessed it, broke it and gave it. When it passed through his hands, it was more than enough for everyone.
This miracle was a sign and a symbol of what the world should be like and will be like when God's shalom is fully realized on earth--when there is enough food, enough drink, enough hope, peace, and life for all.
Theologians Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan see the connection between the feeding of the multitude and the beautiful moment when Jesus broke bread and shared the cup with his disciples on Maundy Thursday.
Like the feeding of the multitude, this new feast was enough for everyone... everywhere. "Jesus Last Supper," they assert, "was to be the First Supper of the future."
The bread... the wine... These are ordinary things that are given extraordinary meaning. The earthiness of the elements matters to Jesus because he wanted to always remind his followers that he embraced earthiness for their sake.
When those earthy elements passed through his hands---when he took, broke, blessed and gave--they became, through the faith of the outstretched hands who receive them, his own earthiness, his own body.
Miraculously, mystically and beautifully, it is Jesus himself that we receive by faith in the moments we share that meal again... Jesus who was taken, broken, blessed and given... Jesus who continually comes to us give us life in abundance.
And Beloved, there is enough for everyone... everywhere.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.