..last Wednesday week was feast of St Benedict; I met our cleaner Sheila Knowles who looks after the Parish Hall & our Office so well..she was glowing..said what a lovely feastday she had had..a later start; served boys a relaxed breakfast in St Thomas’ House, done some work on Benedictine core values, followed by a splendid meal of steak & chips..”once a year Father!”..
a special meal for a special group of people we often don’t notice & take for granted, who do the menial tasks the housekeeping lovingly..
& tonight is the equivalent for you all here ..a feast to celebrate with a meal of a lifetime
your place as servant disciples; cleaners, Ministers of the Word, Ministers of Holy Communion, flower arrangers, servers, musicians, & many other ministries..the Church will be full tomorrow afternoon of participants spectators & visitors, but tonight this meal is for you..the domestic staff, the home team, as we gather to break bread & to pray & to give thanks..
“I give you a new commandment..love one another..” ; Lord have mercy
“I have given you an example so they you may copy what I have done to you..”
; Christ have mercy
“how can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?” ; Lord have mercy
May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life.
..last Wednesday was the patronal feast of our St Benedict’s Primary School & they came here to pray the Stations of the Cross; we chose three to pause at, to pray & to open..Mrs Coltman designed poster for each, as you can see..5 8 & 12; for 12th Station Jesus dies on Cross is depiction of Cross & a heart at its very centre..one of our youngest pupils in Class 2 put her hand up to ask me a question..”does love in the heart come from inside or outside?..this from a 7yr old girl..what a question from inside her little heart, indicative of how our children have grown on in recent months, to listen to think & to challenge..& how would you respond I wonder?..I said from the inside & the outside..some love comes out from you, your goodness & generosity, & some of it is fed into you by others when they are good & generous to you..so why at this Maundy Thursday meal does it relate to Mrs Coltmans art work & the girls insightfulness?..the Body of Christ, the heart of divine presence in our world, is fed/ nutured both from inside & outside; from the real presence of God made flesh inside in bread &wine, & from the outside in each & every person who makes up the Body of Christ..as Pope St Leo gave Holy Communion he would say
“become what you receive the Body of Christ”..Our Lords loving self sacrifice in body & spirit, seasoned by the self sacrifice of others, us others, which yeasts the one bread & replenishes the one cup..love at the footwashing from within & without, through his gentle hands on each foot, his warm glance towards each face..a look which knows us from the inside & in spite of our shoddiness our dereliction of duty & our downright stubbornness when we do it my way & get it hopelessly wrong again & again, the look is one which loves & understands us to death..as he cradles washes dries & feeds the heart of us his fellow disciples, as our stories experiences & failures are fed into the heart of Jesus from the outside..the Body of Christ at its finest “do this in memory of me”..Peters gritty spat with Jesus in gospel brings to mind two other Stations in his life & ministry of service..when he, like you & I this evening, are challenged to wise up to grow up & self appraise our ongoing journey into full communion..”woman I do not know him” 3times to make sure his disownment from the outside is clear, & isn’t diluted or excused..but what of the inside?..”do you understand what I have done to you?” a Jesus fully aware that neither Peter then, nor you & I tonight, had slightest understanding of what was/is really happening the first Maundy night & again tonight, not a representation but the real presence, the Last Supper for first time tonight..try to get your mind round it & its mission impossible; allow your heart to break open to receive it from inside & it is life changing no longer life threatening..in Garden of Gethsemane later tonight & at our Altar of Repose, a “coming to ones senses” moment for Jesus & us..the prayer of despair from outside “Father take this cup of suffering from me” transformed after time of emptying the heart of self to enable divine grace to enter /re enter after many a year, & from the heart he voiced from the heart “but let it be as you not I would have it” ultimate prayer of servant discipleship..the grace courage & heart for the body of Christ to step out onto the journey of the Stations ..Christ in person, Jesus of Nazareth, & the full cast in order of appearance including our Peter..& for John, who wrote tonights gospel, there is no Last Supper ;the eucharist the bread & wine are personified in way you serve & love Christ in your neighbour, the quality of your servant discipleship..& Johns gospel finishes in Ch21 not with a sheep & goats divisory day of judgement, but with 3 more questions to Peter “Simon do you love me?” in Gk two expressions of love “fileo” love of friendship, tender but not all encompassing; &”agapao” love without reserve total unconditional..Jesus asks “Simon do you love me “agapas-me, with total unconditional love; knowing his level of betrayal disownment shoddiness within drama of his own weakness Peter responds “Lord you know I love you [filo-se] that is “I love you with my poor human love”..Christ insists
“Simon do you love me with this total love I want?” Peter repeats in humble human love
“Kyrie, filo-se” Lord I love you as I am able to love you..the third time Jesus only says “Fileis-me” ..”do you love me” Jesus in love word & understanding climbs down, comes down off the Cross with that loving heart on our poster, to meet you & I, where we are,
at the depth of love & the level of understanding of which we are at this moment capable
..he comes down to our level tonight in presence of person you will share sign of peace with, in bread & wine, & in love..”a new commandment” indeed, & maybe a new Station of the Cross..”Jesus comes down off the Cross to meet us”, us the domestic staff, the home team..to greet us & to share this meal of a lifetime with us..us his beloved insiders & outsiders..wait until our little Class 2 disciple grows up a little more then I will explain to her how her challenging question from within fed our meal of a lifetime with the taste of a lifetime for a lifetime..
“how can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?”..indeed & from the inside..
[ Maundy Thursday John 13; 1-15]