Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A tragic love story.

March 20, 2008
Holy Thursday
Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-15

I am a man of many flaws and faults. One of those faults has become painfully clear to me because of our Gospel text tonight. I am terribly cynical and I mask that cynicism with an unhealthy dose of sarcasm from time to time. I do not like this aspect of myself. My cynicism causes me a great deal of problems. One of them is a tendency to give up on people who have let me down. I am also aware of how my cynicism can cause me to not take chances because I fear being disappointed.

So here we are at the Mass of the Lord's Supper where we celebrate the great gift of the Eucharist and Jesus' great example of service. This is a Gospel text that I am very familiar with. I pretty much now John's account by heart. So last night I was just perusing it again and I had an experience that shook me to my core. I have spent so much time viewing Judas as the "Benedict Arnold" of the scene that I have completely missed the tragic love story that is so transparent.

Jesus is painfully aware of Judas' imminent betrayal and all of the horror that will come to pass. I can imagine that most of us would have called Judas on the carpet and revealed him for the traitor he is. That, however, is not what Jesus does. Jesus does not give up on Judas even though he knows what is in Judas' heart. Jesus lovingly washes Judas' feet and shows him that he is loved. That image has produced more than a few tears from me over the past 24 hours. I never saw it before. John's account is brand new to me tonight.

It is a tale of a tragic love but also a glorious and victorious love! At the Last Supper, Jesus declares in word and deed that he never gives up on us. Jesus gives us his body and blood as salvation for the world, a life of hope and joy! Jesus' washing of Judas' feet is the assurance that he never gives up on us! We may choose to walk away from Jesus but he continues to follow along side of us. We may ignore him but he pays close attention to us regardless. We may pretend that we do not know him but he will never deny us. This to me is the message of the Last Supper.

We live in fearful times and it is easy to surrender to cynicism and anger. It is easy to give up on people and institutions and especially the Church. All of us are imperfect and flawed but also gloriously made in the image of God. We are God's children and he sent his only begotten son so that we may know what it truly means to live.

Because we are God's children, we are connected by a bond that cannot be broken. We are one people. I believe that Jesus' washing of Judas' feet is a call to each of us not to give up. To not give up on God and not to give up on one another. As we approach the altar tonight, we stand in the presence of Jesus. As we receive his body and blood we are transformed into his likeness. As we leave this church filled with God's Holy Spirit, we are called to be God's love and unfailing devotion to one another. I firmly believe that in these fearful times, it is our love for one another that will be our life boat. I believe that if we do not give up on one another, we will stand strong and have no need to be afraid. If we truly live as God's children, if we truly live as Jesus' disciples and if we truly live as a people sustained by the Holy Spirit, then we will not be afraid. I also believe that if we live as a people redeemed by the unfailing love of Jesus, then we will never feel alone because we will not abandon one another just as Jesus never abandons us.