When the hour came, Jesus took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God."
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, "Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you that from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me." And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” These words of Jesus from Luke’s account of Christ’s Passion and death reveal the compassion of the Suffering Servant.
Each of the evangelists has a distinctive portrait of Jesus as he walks the way to Calvary. Luke remains consistent to the characteristics he’s highlighted all through his Gospel. He especially depicts Jesus’ concern for those on the margins of society, shown as the Lord heals in the Garden, comforts the weeping women, forgives his executioners and welcomes the repentant thief.
Many of us, I’m sure, have known people near death who show more concern about the feelings of those around them, than for themselves. We marvel at the self-sacrifice such heroic love involves. Here, in this Sunday’s account of the Passion, is the model for all love—the sacrificial love of Jesus, which continues to be available for each of us.
Luke painted this portrait specifically for a Christian community in the latter half of the first century, which faced internal doubts and external persecution. It seems clear that he’s urging them—and us, the Church at the beginning of the Third Millennium—to cling fast to the image of the suffering Messiah, whose example of love ought to guide our personal and communal life as Christians and as the Church.
This long Gospel begins with the story of the last supper that Jesus ate with his disciples. During the meal, he took a cup, gave thanks, said the blessing, and gave it to his disciples. Then he did the same thing with the bread, saying, “this is my body which will be given for you.” Do you know where we repeat similar words?
Jesus said that one of his disciples would betray him. The disciples argued about which disciple was the greatest among them. What does Jesus tell them that the greatest among them must do?
What did Jesus tell Peter that he would do that same day?
Jesus goes out, as was his custom, to pray at the Mount of Olives. There he prays, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still not my will but yours be done.” Meanwhile, what did the disciples do?
Jesus was arrested and taken to the house of the high priest. There they lit a fire in the courtyard and sat around it. What did Peter do when people questioned him and asked if he was a disciple of Jesus?
Pilate did not find Jesus guilty and wanted to release him. What did the people demand that Pilate do?
Who was made to carry the cross for Jesus?
Were there others who were crucified with Jesus? Who is often called a “good thief”?
Who asked permission to bury the body of Jesus?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
Oftentimes, parishes will act out this week's Gospel reading during Mass. Do the same thing at home. Have everyone in your family choose a role and participate in reading the Gospel. If you really want to put on a show, try to find some costumes and props.
This week at Mass, we will receive palms. As a way to display your family's palms throughout the year, make it into a palm cross. Watch this video from our friends at the Arlington Catholic Herald for a tutorial.
Check out some more Lent and Easter resources here.