In the shadows of the evening I come into the sacristy and bring out the holy vessels with which we will celebrate communion. I splash some wine into a cruet and count out some wafers. It’s early in Holy Week, not yet the Triduum, and our number will be small.
In the silence and the darkness I feel a deep sorrow. I have just come from listening to the news.
Underlying all our communions is failure. We betray those we love most, we do not live up to our own standards of truth and compassion, and we hate, torture and kill those of whom we are afraid. We leave Jesus in the lurch — in so many ways – again and again.
As I wipe off the chalice and drape it with a purificator I reflect that I am not a very shiny vessel. And yet God has chosen to abide in my heart. What mystery is this, that my savior has chosen me?
As Jesus prays on the eve of his crucifixion in our reading from the Gospel of John, “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” I am loved as Jesus himself is loved, and I am one with all my fellow Christians and with Christ himself. For what it’s worth, we all, in our incompleteness and failure are one.
This Holy Communion that Christ gave us on the day before he was handed over is the expression of total acceptance and love. He washes our feet, smelly and odd-shaped as they are. I do not need to be any better than I am. It is the spirit of Christ within me that redeems everything.
After all the blood and the darkness, the loneliness and the anguish of Holy Week, one thing remains. Jesus prays: “I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them “ We have been made the vessels of love. We are the chalices from which Spirit spills out into the world – each of us unique, each chosen, each full of potential that it is our duty to manifest in the service of God.
When you read this, the Triduum will have begun. We will have the opportunity to remember the sacrifice of Jesus, made that our consciousness might expand into Kingdom of heaven awareness. Wash somebody’s feet today, ritually or symbolically, out in the world. Let the Spirit pour out of you as wine from a chalice. We are all vessels of mysterious, transformative love.