Text: Luke 22: 14- 20
When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it[b] until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
As a child I remember the first time I went to the Circus. I was all excited to see the clowns, the lions, the tigers, the elephants, et al. But the time when my mouth was wide open with wonder was at the “Trapeze Act”. What is a Trapeze? A trapeze is a short horizontal bar hung by ropes or metal straps from a support. It is an aerial apparatus commonly found in circus performances. There are two set categories. The “Flyers” and the “Catchers.” The flyer climbs the steps, mounts the platform and grasps the trapeze that is suspended from the middle of the arena. The one doing this, leaps off the platform, holding the trapeze, swings through the air. While the catcher hangs from his knees on another trapeze, with his/her hands to reach out. The flyer has to let go the trapeze. She/he sails in midair with no support or connection. Some do a somersault or two. This act of letting go is a very risky one. The flyer has to completely trust the catcher to time accordingly and swing into action so that the catcher will hold the flyer. When I saw this, it was like “having my heart in my mouth” moment. Henri Nouwen a Dutch Catholic Priest interacted with trapeze artists. They said to him “The biggest challenge is to “let go” of the trapeze and trust that the catcher will hold before one descends to the ground. Letting go is an act of faith.
We saw Jesus having a great reception when he entered Jerusalem on a Donkey. He had the people on his side. In the passage set before us, we see Jesus at the table during the Passover. This is his final table fellowship with His disciples. John Ortberg says that table in Greek is called “Trapeza”. It is a time when Jesus like the flyers in Trapeze was about to “Let go” of his earthly life. He was walking towards the Cross. Jesus taught his disciples all through that meaning of life is not in clinging to certainties. Peter at Caesarea Philippi declared Jesus as Messiah but when Jesus spoke about suffering and cross that He had to endure, Peter took him to the side and rebuked him. Jesus harshly calls Peter “Get back Satan”. Peter wanted to cling on to Jesus. But Jesus taught life is to learn to ‘let go’ in faith. ‘Letting go’ is a challenge. “To let go” is the path of the cross. ‘To let go’ is to deny oneself and carry the cross and follow Jesus. Jesus lets go his life in Heaven and becomes a human. He lets go off his riches and was born in a manger. And now he is about to let go off his ministry and disciples. Before he lets his life go on the cross He prayed to the “Catcher”, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.’ Passover meal celebrated the liberation of the Hebrew Slaves from Egypt. The meal reminded them of the deliverance of God. On the Passover table Jesus demonstrates His brokenness of the body and shedding of the blood through breaking the bread and distributing the wine. He made the “Letting go of the Cross” a memory to live by. Cross is a reality that needs to be inscribed in our lives. The Holy Communion is the reminder of the hope that if we ‘let go’ in faith, the ‘Catcher’ will hold us.
We are burdened in life with regret. We are crippled by remorse. The sense of loss makes us bitter. Despair makes us negative about all our experience. Revenge rules our mental landscapes. We see no hope. We cling on to all these things. Nurturing a sense of hurt is very difficult to let go. “To let go” our inferiority complex is very very difficult. If we hold on to it, we have an explanation for all the wrongs in our lives. If we let go, we have to have the faith that God is in control. It is easier to harbor hatred, revenge, guilt, feelings of hurt, than to let go. Strangely the negative things do give us a sense of control and letting them go makes us “helpless”. We have to have faith that God will hold us. He will not let us fall.
At an early age Sam lost his father due to an unfortunate circumstance. There were some people responsible for it. He grew up with hatred and a sense of revenge. But Sam was blessed with a devout mother who had faith in God and abandoned herself and her 4 children in the hands of God. She taught Sam the importance of faith and worship. When Sam became a youth the hatred deepened. The sense of revenge got louder. He was entrapped in the cage of regret, hatred and revenge. It affected his personality. He attended the worship and took part in the Holy Communion but he could never let go of his deep seated wounds. The only comfort was the love and prayer of his mother. Rev K.O. Philipose who was the Vicar of his church introduced him to the love and grace of Lord Jesus through his pastoral care. One day when he took part in the Holy Communion, Sam was moved by the words of Liturgy said by the priest before he administered the Holy Body and Blood. “The Holy Body and Holy Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, broken and shed on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, is given to you for the health of body and soul.” When he received the body and blood of Christ he remembers being moved beyond words. This encounter led him to experience the Cross and let go off his hatred, helplessness and revenge. It was this encounter that turned his life around where he let go and waited for God to catch him. It was this act of surrender that shaped his course of life. The brokenness of Jesus healed his deep seated wounds. The Blood of Christ washed his hatred and revenge. This story is the true story of my friend and mentor Rev Sam Koshy who is a blessed orator and Professor of Theology at the Mar Thoma Theological Seminary, Kottayam. My dear friends, the Holy Communion is not something magical. It is an invitation to ‘let go’ off our securities, insecurities, hatred, pain and revenge to increase our capacities to experience the Presence of God in our lives.
Prayer: Lord forgive us. We love to cling to our life and our circumstances. Train us to ‘let go’ to feel your presence and control in our lives. Amen
Rev Merin Mathew
Mar Thoma Syrian Church