She was not quite sure how many were coming. Her master just told her that the Rabbi from Nazareth and his friends were going to use the room for the Passover. Her master was cooking the lamb that had been sacrificed earlier in the day and had baked the unleavened bread. Toward nightfall, they began to come in. Men and women who knew each other; laughing and talking to each other.
Then He came in. He didn’t stand out of the crowd by his appearance; but there was something about him. She was just about to get the towel and the basin to wash their feet. The Rabbi smiled at her and took the towel, water and basin and he did her work. Then, he shocked her. He gestured for her to sit down, he smiled, and then washed her feet, too.
We gather tonight in the Upper Room. Brothers and sisters, disciples and friends of Jesus. Here, no one is better than the other. The greatest among us is the one who serves the other. In this Upper Room, the fundamental job description of a Christian: to wash the feet of the entire world as Jesus did, no matter who it is. In the Upper Room of Jerusalem, Jesus gave the gift of the ordained priesthood. He entrusted the Apostles the role to continue to offer the Mysteries that began that night. But, notice: the ordained priesthood is born in the washing of the feet. My brothers and I in the ordained priesthood are called to walked shoulder and shoulder with every Christian. In fact, he must be the servant of all. The ordained priest is entrusted with the celebration of the Eucharist not for his own sake but to enable you, the Body of Christ to be fed and care for.
Back to our friend, after she got over her shock, she finished preparing all necessary items for the Passover meal. As she was about to leave, the Rabbi gestured for her to take seat and celebrate with them. All the others, smiled at her, made room and welcomed her in. As she heard the prayers and they sang the songs, one of his friends looked so sad and then, he was gone. Suddenly, in the context of the familiar celebration of freedom, things changed. The rabbi took the unleavened bread, the food made for the Exodus, and blessed and broke it, and gave it to his disciples with the words: This is my body which will be given up for you. He took the cup and gave it to them saying: This is my blood which will be shed for you. The shock in her heart was reflected in the eyes of those who knew him better
Tonight, we share the same divine mystery. The Jesus who sat in the Upper Room and left us this memorial, who was betrayed, who suffered the agony of the Cross and rose again is present among us the Sacrament of the Altar. In this Upper Room, we celebrate our freedom from the slavery of death and sin not through the blood of a lamb, but through the Blood of the Lamb sacrificed on the altar of the Cross. Whenever we gather around His Table, He is in our midst. In bread that is no longer bread, He feeds us with His very Presence. With wine that is no longer wine, we share His Blood. In the sacred meal, we experience and meet our Risen Lord. Our mandate is quite clear: to be Jesus in the world, to live as He did, to offer our lives for all, especially the most vulnerable and most in need.
The servant girl watched her new friends leave. They were singing the Psalms of the Passover and moving on to Gethsemane. The Rabbi came over to her to say thank you and hugged her. She had heard the rumors about what the officials wanted to do, but at that moment, her heart knew no fear. She knew just a peace and love that only God can give.
As we leave here tonight, may our hearts be filled with the Love and Peace that is our Eucharist Lord. No matter where our journeys will bring us, no matter what is in store for us, we leave knowing that He is with us. He gives us all we need in this holy mystery: His very self.