Blog # 255 Last Supper / Crucifixion
It cost me ten dollars to preach the homily at our celebration of the Feast of Corpus
Christi this year. And I thought it was well worth it. I wanted an opportunity to
focus upon and clarify the primary theological connection or relationship between
the Last Supper,the Crucifixion of Jesus the following day, and our celebration of
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
I began the homily by calling up two people sitting in a front pew and giving one
of them a five dollar bill and the other a check for five dollars with no name as
the payee. Once I gave my five dollar bill to the first person I could not do
that again. If I had another five dollar bill I could have given that one to the
same or a different person, but the first dollar bill was no longer mine and I could
not give it away. The person who received the five dollar check received the
same amount of money, but in a different mode.
There is a very significant detail in the story of the Last Supper in the Gospel
of John. Before Jesus and the Apostles leave the upper room at the
conclusion of the Last Supper John has Jesus say : That the world will know
I love the Father, let us be on our way. And they went directly to
Gethsemani. Previously Jesus had said there is no greater love anyone can
have than to lay down one's life for a friend.
God AS GOD cannot die, cannot 'lay down' His life. In Jesus, the
Eternal Word of God, identified with Jesus as a single person, can die. That
was the experience of Calvary. But in order to guarantee and proclaim the
authenticity of the death of Jesus, and therefore its human identity with the
death of any and every other human death, we have to admit that Jesus
could die only once. We die only once. Death takes all we have. We
have no more to give. On Calvary Jesus really died. Death took all He
possessed in the humanity He shared with us. ( Heb 9 25,27
This was the way it was with the five dollar bill I gave away. It was gone,
no longer mine to give. If I had other five dollar bills I could have
given them away, but not the one I had given. So with Jesus. The Father
could have chosen the Word to have become incarnate time after time
and lay down His human life as an act of perfect love in obedience to the
Father's will. But this was not the case.
Jesus is the sole Redeemer of all who have been or will be redeemed.
"There is no other name..." In my analogy of the bill and the check several
other elements begin to surface. My gift was not about paper, though paper
was a required element of my gift. My gift was money. The check was worth
the same amount as the five dollar bill. It was in a different mode. The
death of Jesus was not all about suffering no more than my gift was all about
two pieces of paper. As my gift was about money the gift Jesus made
on Calvary was about love.
The same amount of money was offered in the check as was offered in
the bill. The five dollars could have been given in the form of five ones. I
chose it to be given in one five. The father could have chosen Jesus to
have suffered a tooth ache, a scourging, or merely to say in a response
of obedient love "I love You, Father" and any of the responses Jesus,
made united as a single person to the Word, would have been an infinite act
of love, enough to be without measure, enough for unimaginable billions
and billions of people in union with Jesus by faith and Baptism to have
what would be their unique share of the worship of Jesus on Calvary
and our Father's response to Jesus and in Jesus to us in the
Resurrection and eternal love of Heaven.
The same love Jesus offered the Father on Calvary is the same love He
offers in the Sacrifice of the Mass. Like the check and the five dollar bill
it is the same money in my analogy, and in Calvary and the Mass it is the
same love. An infinite difference lies in the fact I would soon run out of
five dollar bills and money in the bank to justify writing checks, whereas
the love of God is infinite, without measure. Jesus, as one of us, had to
believe this. He shares His same human confident faith with us who are
one with Him through faith and Baptism.
Go out to the whole world and tell the good news. Do not be afraid of
ever running out of love. There is a check waiting for anyone and
everyone with a unique space for a unique amount of love the Father
desires to bestow on each person who comes to Him in Jesus.