Homily for Holy Thursday, St. Mary’s

I’m almost sure there has been a time in each of our lives that a friend has invited us somewhere for some celebration or another. A couple of times I remember walking into the room, taking a look around and saying to myself “I don’t know anybody here!” “I don’t even see the person who invited me…” Awkwardly, moving through the room toward the table with snacks upon it, I think twice and make my way back outside.

But I don’t think I would do that on a night like this. For, even if I don’t know everybody in the room, it all seems familiar, and comfortable in an intimate sort of way. This is not a place where people should feel uncomfortable. Things look different, our anticipation is rising and even though most of us have seen this before, we want to see it again. This is how Jesus started everything and he doesn’t want it to end.

Actually God started it all when he gave us everything we hold dear; just look around, to the person on either side of you, think of the world outside these walls, the people, the places. I don’t feel that awkward pause… that makes me want to leave. I want this to go on too.

It is true there are times in our lives when we were too tired to appreciate everything that God gives us; even as over and over again we abandoned God, and he stayed right by our side. God was the familiar face in the room. When were too tired to go on and things seem out of sorts, God stands by the door and urges us, not to go back outside, but to stay. God pulls us out of fear so the walk into the room, in which we find ourselves. It isn’t so scary after all.

But, how frightening it must’ve been for the Israelites! Procuring a lamb, slaughtering it, placing the blood upon the doorposts and then waiting for the Angel of Death to pass over. The Angel of Death itself does not want it to stop, but each person with a lamb and the blood, needs to be protected. “For when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow shall come upon you.” “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate…”

Looking out the next morning, they don’t want this special time to end either.

Getting ready for the Passover Jesus invites his friends and disciples to find a room in which they can celebrate. Jesus knew his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. And to pass this world on to the Father.

There are so many things to take care of, to get ready. You know how it is! It has to be special: the drinks, the food, the talk. We lament the fact when someone special can’t come. Even though he knew Judas would betray him, it was sad for the Lord when Judas was not there. He was missing out on the ultimate act of love that our Lord has passed on to us. Knowing he would be betrayed, arrested, beaten up, tortured, crucified and killed the next day, Jesus still didn’t want the dinner to end.

When our conversation slows — and we find ourselves in that awkward silence, he gets up, and then our conversation stops completely. He gets down on his knees and washes our feet. He would have kept going and going, washing and washing, believers, unbelievers, saints, sinners, rulers and ruled, filled and hungry, young old, you, me… he never intended to stop, he does not want it to end. And so, he has asked US to continue, washing and remembering what he did. “Do you realize what I have done for you?” “… I have given you a model to follow so that as I have done for you, you should do also.”

In Corinth Paul said: “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” “In the same way, also the cup, after supper saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again.”

Wanting to leave, to go back outside, is no longer a choice for you or me.

I no longer feel awkward, uncomfortable and thinking I don’t know a soul. He has saved us, by his invitation to a dinner that we’ve all seen before. And this time we cross this room in confidence, without fear. Now we know everyone who has ever been here. We want this time to go on and on. There are no longer strangers… for we see Him in us.