RCL Holy Thursday
Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 116:1 and 10-17, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, St John 13:1-17 and 31b-35
On Sunday, Palm Sunday, waving our palms and gathered with the children of the parish, we once again chose Barabbas. Even the shorter form of the Passion requires us to make that choice. Saints Matthew, Mark, and Luke, compel us to choose a murderer and an insurrectionist over the Savior and Redeemer of the world. The wisdom of the Gospels stands in stark contrast to how we view ourselves. Will we ever get it right?
The answer, sadly, is No. What we can never get completely right is how to live, how to live so that we do not need a Savior. We will never get that completely right though we have our Savior’s example and we have our Savior’s Sacrament to show us the way and to nourish us along that way. If we follow his example and if we feed on him through his Sacrament, we shall not stray too far. We shall not stray as far, say, as Judas who betrayed him and who took money for his trouble. Even if we don’t stray that far, still we need a Savior. For Christ can show us how to live and feed us along the way, but still we need him, because our ability, our might, simply runs out before we live perfectly and live so that we do not need a Savior. Our humanity runs out before his divinity begins.
And so year after year we choose Barabbas. We choose Barabbas because our humanity simply can’t reach as far as choosing Jesus requires. We might as well try to fly unaided from the Empire State Building to the Eiffel Tower.
So, what are we to do? We keep the Feasts when they roll around, seemingly interminably, as best we can, knowing that God who made us knows us and loves us, loves us while knowing our humanity can only stretch so far. For this reason we follow the Anglican or Episcopal understanding of the glory Christ displays when he institutes the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. We wear white, and we sing the Gloria in excelsis Deo. We sing the best hymn of praise we know to thank God for not letting our shortcomings interfere with his love for us. We keep the color white for the purity and perfection of our Lord whose divinity supplies to us what our humanity can’t reach. We remember the words “in remembrance of me” because they were the words he used when he gave us himself, gave us the Sacrament to help us along, to help the very limitation we have which holds us back from growing up fully like him.
And, finally, we accept his commandment to love one another. We do this, because it’s what he did, and it’s what he told us to do. But also we love each other because that’s what our humanity would do if it could reach his divinity—we would be the servant of each other, for that is the way to keep our communion and our community in tact. We could never have found this out on our own. Having his example and the gift of his Sacrament, can we not get that right? Can we not get it right that our bearing one to another, our being the servant of each other, will keep our community in tact and even cause it to grow? We should be able to get that right. The Savior who dies for us wills us to give ourselves to each other. He was willing to die to set us free to do those things that we need to do to bring others into this community. He was willing to die to set us free to do what we can to keep this community in tact.