Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Maundy Thursday

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)
Sadly, Christians do not all partake of one bread for the Body of Christ is so fractured that we have disfellowshipped ourselves from one another.

In Lumen Gentium, Vatican II announced that "the Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race."
Cum autem Ecclesia sit in Christo veluti sacramentum seu signum et instrumentum intimae cum Deo unionis totiusque generis humani unitatis....

The Eucharist is supposed to renew us continually in our identity and calling, so the symbolism of one bread and one cup represents the unity that God has already given us (and we so thoroughly ignore, reject, squander, and disgrace). This makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for us to be any kind of sign and catalyst of the unity of the human race (which is also God's prior gift).

I pray that this Maundy Thursday the Holy Spirit will so move the hearts of all Christians to seek our true identity as one body (and I write here of the mystical reality and the simple one-on-one and group-with-group living of daily life, not of an amalgam of ecclesial structures). May a yearning to eat together lead us to the humility that will set a table and serve each other and be served by each other.

That greater purpose must never be forgotten: the unity of the whole human race (and, let us add, of all creation). We are not gathered in Christ for our own sake. God has never operated in that manner. We are created and called to be a blessing to others. All of us. This is not some exclusively Christian concept or possession. The symbolism and the reality of the sacraments are reflected in the deepest structures of creation for many reasons. This is about ALL of us.

And so we have a divine command: love one another.

Without that, our prayers are hollow, our doctrines trash, our righteousness a steaming pile of shit. (I am not going outside the bounds of biblical language here.)

I love Margaret's insight:
This week, we bring the unconscious to light in our liturgy. We try to scrape the bottom of our own buckets and offer even that to God.


So, scrape the bottom of the bucket. Offer it. Now is the time.

And as we offer it, as we really let it go, we may find the peace and joy in that.
From the bottom of that bucket may there emerge a passionate yearning for the wholeness, healing, holiness of all persons and all things.

But we have to remember to bring those bucket dregs out and expose them to the Love at the heart of all things.

Grace abound in your journeys, whoever and wherever you are.

Bach - The Passion According To Saint Matthew - Kommt, ihr Tochter BWV 244
This is the opening of the Matthew Passion with orchestra, double chorus and boys choir.

Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen,
Sehet - Wen? - den Bräutigam,
Seht ihn - Wie? - als wie ein Lamm!
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig
Am Stamm des Kreuzes geschlachtet,
Sehet, - Was? - seht die Geduld,
Allzeit erfunden geduldig,
Wiewohl du warest verachtet.
Seht - Wohin? - auf unsre Schuld;
All Sünd hast du getragen,
Sonst müßten wir verzagen.
Sehet ihn aus Lieb und Huld
Holz zum Kreuze selber tragen!
Erbarm dich unser, o Jesu !

Come, ye daughters, share my mourning,
See ye ---(Faithful) whom? --- (Zion, et sim.) the bridegroom there,
See him --- how? --- just like a lamb!

O Lamb of God, unspotted
Upon the cross's branch slaughtered,
See ye, --- what? --- see him forbear,
Alway displayed in thy patience,
How greatly wast thou despiséd.
Look --- where, then? --- upon our guilt;
All sin hast thou borne for us,
Else we had lost all courage.
See how he with love and grace
Wood as cross himself now beareth!
Have mercy on us, O Jesus!

--the BB


Jane R said...

Thank you, Paul, for a beautiful reflection. (Thanks also, Margaret!)

Beautiful icon, too.

Word verification: sonitent. (Sonorously penitent?)

it's margaret said...

I have really enjoyed your musical selections this week. Thank you Paul.

A blessed Triduum to you, dear brother.