Maundy Thursday: Preemptive Love
"When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him."
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
April 6, 2023, Words By: Kris Rocke, Image By: unknown
Today we remember a very strange meal. We call it the “Last Supper.” It is also the first communion. Jesus hosts the meal. He also takes the form of a servant. The host drops to his knees with a towel and basin, washing and blessing then feeding his beloved friends who will soon betray him.
Betrayal is brutal. The poet Dante locates it at the lowest level of hell – where fire turns to ice and becomes a frozen lake that entombs its captives. Chief among the entombed is Judas, according to Dante. But today’s meal transforms betrayal into beauty with preemptive love. Jesus blesses his betrayer.
Having been washed and fed, Judas leaves the table into the night. And that’s when Jesus says these very strange words, “the Son of man has been glorified” (John 13:31). Preemptive love is the glory of God. It precedes all we ever do – the good, the bad, and the ugly. This meal is designed specifically for those who can’t live up to it and who don’t deserve it. This is what transforms the Last Supper into the first communion. In honor of this meal, Jesus tells his disciples to “do as I have done” (John 13:15). When we undergo the preemptive love of God in Christ, betrayers find their way back to the table where they once again discover their own belovedness.
The Last Supper
They are assembled around him, troubled and confused.
He seems withdrawn,
as if, strangely, he were flowing past
those to whom he had belonged.
The old aloneness comes over him.
It had prepared him for his deep work.
Now once again he will go out to the olive groves.
Now those who love him will flee from him.
He had bid them come to this last meal.
Their hands on the bread
tremble now at the words he speaks,
tremble in sudden silence
as a forest does when a gun is fired.
They long to leave, and they will.
But they will find him everywhere.
Holy Week – Year A: Inside Creation
At first glance, these are reflections on the events of Holy Week. They are also glimpses inside the act of Creation itself. When we enter Holy Week we have a front-row seat to God’s creative process. We are watching a great artist at work. When God created the heavens and the earth no one was there to witness it. And when God created humanity it took thousands of years for humans to make sense of it. But Holy Week is different. We are not merely spectators bearing witness to something. We are participants who reveal God’s creative genius. When we undergo the paschal mystery we find ourselves on the inside of Creation, while it’s happening. In the end, we discover ourselves as co-creators in Christ, participating in the ongoing act of Creation.