Scripture is being re-enacted today more than ever and yet all our thoughts and actions revolve around a virus!
In Luke’s Gospel, (Ch.4) when Jesus got up to speak to the Jewish priests and people in the Synagogue, he read from Isaiah (61:1,2). This passage, as we know referred to himself, and spoke of The Holy One curing the blind and releasing the captives. In Luke (4:21) Jesus said, “Today this scripture that you have just heard is fulfilled”. It wasn’t what the listeners wanted to hear so they drove Jesus out of town.
During the Covid epidemic we were in lockdown, just as the disciples were in lockdown after the Resurrection. They were trying to come to grips with the events of the past week and especially the Resurrection. Some of them had seen Jesus, spoken with him and even shared a meal with him. Yet here they were locked in a room lest the authorities catch them and put them in prison. Is this starting to ring any bells?
We know that after the Resurrection, Jesus the Christ had breakfast with his fishermen friends on the banks of the Sea of Tiberius. He spoke with them and breathed on them. We know also that he was the learned travelling companion that joined the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They recognised him “at the breaking of the bread.”
It is interesting that the accounts we read of Jesus making an appearance after the Resurrection show him as wanting to prove he was alive through simple things like having a meal together.
When he appeared to the disciples in the locked room and said, “Peace be with you.” There was no doubt who he was. Thomas, the doubter, will attest to that when he said, “My Lord and my God.” It is my bet Jesus then sat down with them all and shared a meal.
The Last Supper was the gift Jesus gave of himself to his friends before his betrayal and death. It was the souvenir he was leaving them. This special meal, which we know as the institution of the Eucharist, was brought into perspective after the resurrected Jesus shared meals with the same friends. Only, at the last Supper the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup of wine were the symbols he used to give them himself. He told them whenever they performed the same actions, they should do them in memory of Him. Yet at shared meals after his resurrection, he was truly sharing who he was, the Resurrected Christ.
We in this country had to comply with the Covid lockdown, which according to our Prime Minister, would last for at least some months. To help us maintain our faith, all the Catholic Church could give us was TV and streamed on-line masses. We could access special prayers, novenas and daily thoughts and meditations to support ourselves. So, I asked myself, ‘What would Jesus have done in this ‘lockdown’ situation?
Well, I think he would do the same he did when the disciples were in ‘lockdown.’ He would want us to be at peace and then join us for a meal together. “When two or more are gathered in my name, I am in their midst.”
Because of our faith, we certainly would not need Jesus to prove who he was, like he did with Thomas. Jesus said to Thomas, “It is because you have seen me that you believed. Blessed are those who have never seen me yet still believe”. Because of those words all believers should feel blessed. We should realise Jesus only wants our invitation to come into any ‘lockdown’ situation and share a meal with us.
So, why then during our lockdown before we ate our meal could we not have thanked the Father for sending us Jesus and asked the Father’s blessing on the food we were about to consume. Could we not have remembered the Last Supper and how Jesus broke the loaf of bread and shared it for all to eat. We should have been able to share our bread or biscuit or meat pie or whatever we were going to eat, remembering these as symbolic of Jesus giving us His body.
Remembering how Jesus shared wine with his friends and referred to it as His blood ‘that will be shed for many.’ So too, we should have been able to share whatever we were drinking after our meal. Be it wine, a cup of tea or coffee or just plain water.
Jesus said, ‘As often as you do these things, you do them in memory of me.” As we shared our meal together with Jesus present in our hearts and at our table, surely, we too could have said what Thomas said when he recognised Jesus, “My Lord and my God” and then be one in communion with the Risen Jesus with whom we had just shared a meal.
Sadly, the Church was not brave enough to allow us to Invite Jesus into our ‘Lockdown’ situations in the form of the Eucharist during our self-quarantining. Are we not all Disciples of Jesus the Christ? Could not the Holy Spirit within each one of us have changed our ‘supper’ into the Body and Blood of our Saviour thus providing us with the ability, the grace and the hope to face the unknown future.
I don’t believe Jesus meant the Eucharist to only be provided by Catholic Priests.
I’m Peter Mack and that’s how I feel.