Holy Week Reflection: Monday (Luke 22:1-23)
Updated: Apr 7, 2020
This is the first in our series of reflections for Holy Week, written by Fr David.
This passage seemed particularly poignant to me this time. While we are separated from family and friends, we read of Jesus gathering with his friends for the last supper. Ordinarily, for those of us attending a church service on Sunday, we would hear Jesus’ words echoed during the Eucharistic prayer, the prayer of thanksgiving, as part of a Holy Communion service.
“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me… This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
As things are now, most of us are unable to physically receive the bread or the cup. And yet in a mysterious way we might still benefit from the promises Jesus made.
And yet, although Jesus is with his friends, he knows there is one who will betray him. Another thing we may do during a Sunday service is to offer one another a sign of peace.
It’s ordinarily something we would do that involves physical contact, perhaps a handshake or even a hug. Yet with restrictions for coronavirus we gradually retreated from those physical signs before we came to the social distancing measures now being observed.
One reason for offering a sign of peace during a service is taking account of Jesus words in the Sermon on the Mount:
“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.” (Matthew 5:23-25)
We cannot now physically offer one another direct contact as a sign of peace. And yet, we can still forgive or leave the matter in peace.
These words of Jesus are now eerily reminiscent of the situation unfolding in our gospel passage. The figure of Satan (Luke 22:3) is also sometimes called the ‘accuser’. Jesus does not exclude Judas from what is happening at the supper. As the complementary account in John 13 tells it, Jesus washes Judas’ feet, directly hands him a piece of bread and tells him “Do quickly what you are going to do” (John 13:27). Those present seemed not to notice any problem between them, perhaps simply believing that Judas was carrying out Jesus’ instructions.
So, even lacking the usual physical elements, it is my hope that we may still receive and share the real benefits of which the handshake, the bread, the wine are effectual signs.