We have come to a place in our journey where we can feel the effects of our praying, week after week, to see Jesus more clearly, to love him more dearly, that we might follow him more nearly, in our everyday lives. Our desire to be placed with Jesus, and the gifts of clarity about and freedom for his mission, come together in this contemplation of the Last Supper. He has shown us his life from the very beginning and invited us in, to understand and be attracted to his surrender to God, more and more. We are ready to be with him in the final days of his life. Our desire and prayer now is simply to be with him, in compassion and love, as he gives his life away for us.
We begin by reading the familiar accounts of the Last Supper. In the washing of feet scene, John paints a picture of the whole meaning of the Eucharist, the whole meaning of our discipleship, in one gesture that reveals the meaning of Jesus’ gift of himself to us, as servant.
It is important that we let these powerful images become a part of the background of our lives this week. We will move through our week with the image of Jesus breaking bread with and passing a cup of wine around to his disciples. Perhaps with the photo of the Holy Thursday foot washing in our imagination all week, we will be very conscious of this image of Jesus as foot washer.
Throughout the week we can feel and express our gratitude. We can experience, in the midst of very hectic and messy times, a peace the world cannot give. All week — whether we are driving or walking from one place to another, or pouring a cup of coffee, or simply pausing to catch our breath — we can hear him say, “I have given you an example; do this in memory of me.” He is broken and poured out, to completely give himself to our very human struggle that we might be whole and ourselves become bread for our world. He washes our dirty feet to show us we need not hold any part of ourselves away from his loving touch, that we might not fear to touch others with his own gentle, compassionate embrace.
The more we let the concrete events and movements of our week connect with these mysteries, the more powerful this contemplation will become. Each meal, each act of generosity or service, each gesture of acceptance of another, each “yes” this week, can place us intimately back into these scenes for a moment of union.
Perhaps the reflection will be sealed with a special meal we plan with our family or loved ones. Perhaps we can plan to change our routine for an hour this week and reach out to touch, hold, comfort someone who needs it this week. Perhaps this week we will pause and put in writing our own “In These or Similar Words . . .” to express our gratitude.
Please consider sharing some experience, some grace this week, with others making the retreat. You can do this by going to the online Web page of the retreat and clicking on the A Place to Share link. The gifts we receive are given for the building up of the whole body of Christ.
Each morning and each night this week, we can begin and end each day with the assurance that the one who began this journey in us will bring it to fulfillment in the graces he desires to give us, for God’s glory and the service of others.