A second possible
meaning to the question Jesus asked relates to the Lord’s Supper that He had
just given to his disciples. Jesus
had taken bread that he said was his body and wine that he
said was his blood and given it to his disciples. Then he got up from the meal
and washed his disciples’feet — lowering himself,doing the task of a servant,
then returning to his place. Some Scripture commentators point out that
symbolically this action of Jesus mirrors his incarnation, God lowering himself
to become one of us, and then after his death and resurrection, ascending back
to the heavens. Yet Jesus did not abandon his apostles. He promised to send his
Spirit and commanded them to celebrate the memorial of his Passion, death, and
resurrection — the Eucharist.
Do we know what Jesus has done for us in
giving of himself to us when we celebrate the Eucharist?
If you have ever attended the ordination
of a priest, it is likely that you have been struck by various parts of the
ritual.The prostration and the laying on of hands are both deeply moving, but
the one part of the ordination rite that has struck me every time I have
witnessed it is the moment when the newly ordained priest kneels before the
ordaining bishop,who hands a chalice and paten to the priest as he says to the
newly ordained: “Accept from the holy people of God the gifts to be offered to
him. Know what you are doing, imitate the
mystery that you celebrate: model your life on the mystery of the cross.”5
In that brief exhortation there is an
excellent message for every one of us:“know what you are doing,imitate the
mystery that you celebrate: model your life on the mystery of the cross.” It
echoes Jesus’s question to his disciples, “Do you know what I have done for
St. Paul spells out what Jesus has done
for us in his Letter to the Philippians 2:5–7:“though he was in the form of
God,[Jesus] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied
himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
Jesus is the Son of God who lowered himself and became one of us.
The God who is
above everything we can think of, who is the very reason that we live and the
reason that the universe exists, humbled himself to become a part of creation.
This is in direct opposition to fallen humanity that sought “to become like
God” when it disobeyed God’s command in the Garden of Eden.
Our desire to
be in control is part of our fallen nature. Many of us live with an illusion
that we are in control. We are taught to plan for every eventuality,to insure
ourselves for every possible disaster, but if we do not realize that only God
is in control, we are living in a fantasy world. Think of the parable that
Jesus told of the rich man (see Luke 12:16–21) who built bigger barns to store
his large harvest; he was foolish, Jesus said, because he was to die that
night. His material wealth could not save or help him once he was in the grave.
The rich man thought he was in control of his destiny but, like every one of
us, found out that he was not — God was and is.
us from the chaos that life is without him. Pope John Paul II has said, “In the
Eucharist our God has shown love in the extreme, overturning all those criteria
of power which too often govern human relations and radically affirming the
criterion of service:‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and
servant of all’ (Mk 9:35). It is not by chance that the Gospel of John contains
no account of the institution of the Eucharist,but instead relates the ‘washing
of the feet’ (cf. Jn 13:1–20): by bending down to wash the feet of his
disciples, Jesus explains the meaning of the Eucharist unequivocally.”6