Maundy Thursday, 2015
Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 116:1 and 10-17, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Saint John 13:1-17 and 31b-35
What a confusing night this is. Christ gives bread to his disciples and says that it is his body. And, he gives them wine and says that it is his blood. But, the confusion has just begun. A friend and disciple, Judas, turns against Jesus and betrays him, betrays him premeditatively, as an attorney might say. There’s more confusion, still. A friend and disciple, Simon Peter, turns against Jesus without knowing what he is doing. First, he refuses to understand the object lesson: that the love Jesus commands is demonstrated, that love is poured out, as he washes their feet. And second, Peter, without thinking, betrays him by denying him.
With friends like those, as they say, who needs enemies? But those friends are like us. We are like them. For we, also, are more than capable of switching sides. Most of us do it every day: serving him one minute and denying him the next. The confusion we see tonight in Christ’s disciples is the confusion we see in ourselves if we would but look.
And look we shall. Christ will let us look away from him long before he will let us look away from who we are and who we are to him. The mirror he holds up to our faces tonight shows us the betrayal and denial all of us have in our hearts. Tonight, we can see little but confusion in all those around Jesus. We see them and we see us going one way one minute and in the opposite direction the next, like, as he said, sheep without a shepherd.
But the confusion is ours not his. The shepherd is there. The shepherd is here, too. Just as he said he would be, in the bread and in the wine, and in the commandment to love one another. He makes himself known in the Sacrament and in the Love we have for each other, which is really the Love we have for him. He makes himself known just as he said he would. He stays on his steady course. He pours out his love for them just as he poured out water to wash their feet. For the confusion is theirs, not his.
And the confusion has a limit. It ends once that it has wreaked the full extent of its harm. For those who look to him, he makes himself known in the Sacrament and in the Love, and they endure just as he said they would. They endure to eternal life, which he has prepared for those, who, when the confusion ends, still want to be his friends. For the Sacrament and the Love he gives tonight he gives without strings and without conditions. He gives them to you and to me to tide us over, through the confusion, through this life unto life everlasting where he is waiting for us, just as he said he would.