The Sacred Triduum begins today; three days connected to the death and resurrection of Christ. On this day we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Holy Thursday. We remember the Last Supper, and when Jesus was arrested, with his path now evident. Many of his disciples would abandon him. Part of the problem, and not an unreasonable issue, was that his followers wanted a king or leader in the traditional sense. Strong. Mighty. Militaristic. A mighty leader that would provide a kind of safety and security that people living under an occupation cried out for. All quite understandable.
Except for that is not who Jesus was. He was and is a strong and mighty leader, but in ways that are counterintuitive and unlikely; this remains a problem for many of us who call ourselves Christian today. We like leaders who talk tough, tell it like it is, and who will do “what is needed” to provide us with safety and security.
One need only glance at tonight’s first mass reading, from the book of Genesis:
“This is how you are to eat it:
with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand,
you shall eat like those who are in flight.
It is the Passover of the LORD.
This was a different kind of meal instruction, not quite the same as what lead to the Last Supper. But not so different either. And yes, many churches celebrate “a seder” at this time of year, but is that really the point? (NB: I do not advocate this practice, but that’s another blog post for another day.) Maybe, but not in the ways that we might imagine.
Anyway, back to that Genesis reading, do you understand what Moses was saying? Eat like those who are in flight. That is why I called this post Lekh Lekha, which basically means go forth. Get up, get out – GO! God puts forth this command to Abram and Sarai, and it carries forth from that point. It is not a one-off, but rather a way of being. The question stands out to me this Holy Thursday – can we live that way? Will we live that way?
I am reminded this day of the need for safety and security. We all want that, that is normal. But I am also reminded of how we make small g gods or idols of such things. The rationalization that *our* particular safety and security somehow surpasses that of others. Perhaps those others have heard their own Lekh Lekha which as driven them from their homes. You know – like the movement of many of our own ancestors and of contemporary people today who must flee their homes and nations for various reasons. Is their safety less important than ours? Hasn’t God made us all? And can we hear Jesus instruct us clearly to “love one another” You know – as he loved us?
If we remember anything today, perhaps we can focus our prayers on what we are called to in Christ. We are not called to a life of reckless chaos, but we are called to let go of everything at a moments notice and GO. To love and to serve others. It is hard to do. We like our comfy homes, we like our seemingly secure lives. Just as the people of God in Moses’ times could rationalize their own slavery because at least they understood who and where they were. Getting up and going forth means risk and challenge.
On this Holy Thursday my own prayer will be to remember that Lent is not “over” in the sense that my “giving up” something is done with until next year. We are constantly called to give up everything for Christ – all the time. It is not a once a year requirement, but rather a daily call to transformed living.
Can we just get up and go, perhaps seasoned by our Lenten sacrifices, and let go of what we want, and to surrender to the death that brings resurrection? Lekh lekha, may we all be ready to do so in our hearts, our minds, and with our bodies.