Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
My Grandmother once told me that the very first time that she was about to leave to go out on a date, her father looked her in the eyes and simply said, “Remember who you are”. When my father left his home to go to college, he was sent away with those same words: “Remember who you are.” And even though I probably too eagerly jumped in my little yellow Toyota and headed off perhaps a little too fast for my parents to have a chance to actually say the words, I too began a new life with the same words echoing from my childhood: “Remember who you are.” It was engrained and embedded deep within my being.
Sometimes life spins a little out of control. Sometimes things don’t go exactly like the carefully scripted plan we have in our own minds. Sometimes we have to let go or leave behind those in our lives before we’re actually ready to do so. Our lives are full of “last times”, those special, much-too-fleeting moments that we spend with those we love. It is those times when all we can do is trust that the groundwork has been laid for what must continue. Sometimes in those moments when we feel that time is ending all too soon the only thing that we can say is to “remember who you are”.
That had to be a little of what Jesus was going through on this night. Think about it…he had spent his ministry gathering those around him, teaching them, loving them, and indeed shaping them into who they were. And now…here he was completely out of time…the end was approaching. Night had begun to fall. All he could do was trust that the seeds he had planted in his followers would continue to grow and flourish even in a new environment and a new time. So on this night, he invited all those who love him—this somewhat motley crew of misfits and ordinary ones to sit around the table and enjoy their time together. He knew what was about to happen. He knew that this would be the last.
That is where we enter the story…in the midst of this evening meal…this Passover meal…the last meal. The feast is prepared. The loved ones are gathered together. We have visions of a perfect meal and a perfect time together. But, as all of us know, that is not always the way that family meals come together. This was no exception. Nestled beneath this wonderful feeling of closeness and fellowship were chords of betrayal and distrust, signs of denial and misunderstandings, and an all-too-constant stream of arguing among the disciples. Does that sound familiar?
But in this Passover meal that we have come to call the Last Supper, Jesus chooses to share himself—his very body and blood with all of those that were gathered—this denying, betraying, bickering, and beloved lot. It was a way of giving them something to remember him so that they would not feel so alone without him. He gave them something to hold onto—to touch and to taste—something to do to keep Christ close in their hearts. On this night, Jesus gives the gift of himself and a way for all of us to remember who we are.
This is the meal that shapes us. This is the meal that enables us to remember who we are. This is the meal that reminds us from where we came. This is the meal that lets us remember what Christ did for us. But this is also the meal, this holy sacrament, this retelling and remembrance into the core of our being that allows us to taste what is to come, to get a glimpse of what is holy and sacred and once again bring it into who we are.
Go forth and do this in remembrance of Jesus Christ!
Grace and Peace,