Bread In the Wilderness

Father Carl Diederichs

St. Lucy/ St. Luke Churches

Houma-Thibodaux Diocese

 

 

Holy Week

 

Beginning this Sunday, March 20, the Church enters the holiest of weeks. We will reflect on the last days of Jesus on earth, His passion and murder and then celebrate the great miracle of His resurrection from the dead.

 

Many of us will be in church a lot during Holy Week. We’ll start with Palm Sunday when we reenact the joyous entry of Jesus into Jerusalem with palm branches waving and “hosannas” coming from the lips of young and old. Jesus is riding on a donkey and looking into the eyes of those on the side of the road cheering Him on.

 

But He is coming into the holy city that also houses the religious and civil leaders. They were waiting for Him. Not to hail Him, but the kill Him. So, the loud songs of praise and jubilation are snuffed out by the hatred of the religious leaders. These are the folks who claimed to be gatekeepers of the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And yet, they were no better than anyone who would take the life of another. They were planning murder and got their wish. In the very sanctuary of God they plotted death.

 

Because of the people, their murderous plans had to wait just a little while longer. In the mean time, Jesus and His disciples gathered in an upper room of someone’s home and celebrated a meal. And not just a meal but the Passover Meal, a time to reflect on the great Exodus from slavery and death to freedom and life. He knew this would be His last supper. So, He wanted this supper to continue until the end of time. Jesus, at the end of meal, broke bread and gave it to His disciples and said: “This is my Body, given for you.” He took a cup of wine and said: “This is my Blood shed for you. Do this in memory of me.” So, the Pascal Feast celebrating slavery to freedom, death to life would remain with us as often as we break the bread and share the cup.

 

Not long after Jesus gave us this wonderful Sacrament, he was led away to become the forgiving victim at the hands of murderers who saw Him as a “scapegoat,” one that would have to die to save the nation. Yes, “Jesus the Forgiving Victim.” This is the heart of the matter—“Jesus the Forgiving Victim!”

 

There was no retaliation, no hatred, no getting even as Jesus died a horrible death on the Cross. For us, that is the takeaway that we often forget as we revert back to before Jesus when God supposedly approved even killing.

 

As we celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, let’s not forget that as His followers we become the embodiment of Jesus here and now. And our actions ought to be the actions and thoughts of Jesus. We are in a very fundamental way the Presence of Jesus today. And our behavior must be like His. The Forgiving Victim is our Lord and Savior. It is not easy to embody the Forgiving Jesus and live that life today.

 

That is why we need to come to the Welcome Table often. That is why we need to reflect on our baptism into Christ every day. That is why we need to remember that we have been anointed at our baptism to be like Jesus—a priest, a prophet and a servant leader.

 

If Jesus lives today in this world it will only be in us His followers. We can become the “Beloved Community” that Martin Luther King spoke about when he saw the power of Jesus bringing all of us together, no matter what color, what race, what religion, what ethnic origin.

 

Easter is so much more than Easter bonnets and lilies. Easter is when Jesus, the Forgiving Victim returns to earth in the hearts and minds of His People.