Maundy Thursday: A Reflection

It was certainly not a festive meal. Even though some churches (used to?) break out the white vestments, sing the Gloria instead of the Kyrie, and adorn the altar with flowers, the Last Supper was just that. The last one. And everyone knew it.

Imagine the tension which must have filled that upper room, after the unexpected and embarrassing  washing of the feet by their Master. The shock when he spoke of his impending betrayal — to be effected by one of their own band…one at this table with them.

And, when he changed the words of the Passover ritual. Taking the rough loaf of bread into his hands, he must have looked around the table, sorrowfully, before he broke it in two. This is what will happen to my body. And, putting the wine into a cup (no, not a chalice!). My blood will be poured out like this. For you.

The Gospels record some discussion, some denial and anguish about who the betrayer might be and was all this really necessary anyway? But my guess is, most of the meal was eaten in an uneasy silence. The bread, dry in their throats; the wine, sour. But they gamely picked up the ancient ritual, sang a psalm, and moved out together back toward Bethany…and Gethsemane.

There he prayed. There, overwhelmed by fatigue and depression, they slept. Until the soldiers arrived with the betrayer. And there was fear…and fighting…and blood. Until he was bound and taken away from them.

What were they to do? Flee? Fight? Was it possible to rescue him? Peter may have had that in mind as he moved, under the cover of darkness, toward the site of the “trial.” Before the futility of such an effort became clear. And his courage failed.

They would just have to wait…and see. What the daylight would reveal.

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