By Marissa Brown
I imagine Jesus at the Last Supper, reclining with his friends around a table, contemplating the life he had lived thus far. He is aware of the trials and suffering that lay ahead and knows that in a few short hours these friends, his chosen ones, will fall asleep when he needs their prayers and support most, deny him to others and in the most grievous way, and one will betray him to those who will send him to his death.
In this pivotal moment of Jesus’s life, with all of this knowledge, He picks up the bread and the wine and gives his beloved apostles the beautiful gift of the Eucharist. Can you imagine loving others as Jesus did? Knowing that his apostles will break his heart, disappoint him, leave him alone to suffer, and deny their love for him in front of others – yet Jesus loves them enough to give himself. In his time of greatest betrayal, he gives them a gift to take out into the world and change the lives of countless people.
One Sunday a couple of months ago, I was watching Fr. Michael during the consecration and in his silence after blessing the bread, I began to think about the love Jesus has for us. His love for us is so profound, that in his final moments of peace on this earth, he gave his apostles one of the great keys to our salvation. He gave of himself for us, knowing how many of us would reject him, dismiss his teachings, and turn to life of sin and loneliness. Yet, he gave anyway.
As I contemplated this in prayer, I began to think of the perfect timing Christ choose for this gift. He could have instructed the apostles many times, over many different meals shared together, but he choose that night, the last night, the night that several of his friends would be tested, and one friend had already sold Jesus to his enemies.
We should take this timing and apply it to our own lives. When we love our children, extended family, friends, and neighbors, we should do it with agape love, a sacrificial and total love. We are invited to love completely, knowing that in return our gifts to others and our love for them may be rejected. We should give anyway. We may be dismissed. Our morals and values –lessons we hold as precious — might be laughed at, looked at as old fashioned, or deemed not progressive enough for the world in which we now live. Hold true to them anyway.
Pray that in your times of greatest need, staring down a road you know will be treacherous and scary, that you still can demonstrate how to love and live with suffering just as Jesus did in his last days. You can show the world that in your pain, there is still room to look beyond yourself, to touch your loved ones with gifts they can carry on in your absence.
Look to Jesus and the gift of the Eucharist and His perfect timing. Know that until the end of your life, sharing your faith with those close to you, grabbing onto them and showing them the path to Heaven, will be your greatest legacy. During this Lenten season, pray that Jesus will show you in small ways how his life, and his sacrifice, and his perfect timing will bless you with lessons to pass on to those around you and help pave the road to eternal life.