Preached at Emery House
The Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for the Body of Christ), has been celebrated since the late 13th century in the western church, remembering what Jesus said at the last supper when he pointed to the bread which he called “his body” and the wine, which he called “his blood.” In the church calendar, we first remember this on Maundy Thursday; however Maundy Thursday is a rather complicated memory. The name “maundy” comes from the Latin, mandatum, which is a command. Jesus commands us “to do this,” the very thing that we do here at this noonday: to name and claim Christ’s being really present with us in the form of bread and wine, the very thing he promised. And there is a second commandment which we remember on Maundy Thursday: Jesus’ calling us to “love one another as [he] has loved us.”[i] One of the many ways we are to show this love is in the washing of one another’s feet. And then, on Maundy Thursday, things go downhill as we remember Jesus’ later going to the Garden of Gethsemane, pleading with his disciples to stay with him, watch with him, to be really present to him… then Jesus is seized by the governing authorities, he is flogged, his disciples abandon or betray him, the crucifixion happens. In the heart’s memory, the institution of the Holy Eucharist on Maundy Thursday is overshadowed by so many layers of suffering.