II. Week of Lent
Monday 15th February
Evangelium: Mt 25,31-46
Thought of the day: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Mt 25:40
Task for the Day: Share a meal with someone.
Tuesday 16th February
Evangelium: Mt 6,7-15
Thought of the Day: But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth Mt 6:3
Task for the Day: Give some money to charity
Wednesday 17th February
Evangelium: Lk 11,29-32
Thought of the Day: The light of the body is the eye therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light
Task for the Day: Do not wear too short clothes
Thursday 18th February
Evangelium: Mt 7,7-12
Thought of the Day: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Task for the Day: Offer your help to somebody who needs it
Friday 19th February – II. Week of Lent
Meditating the Story of the Passion in St. Mark’s Gospel
The Last Supper (see Mt. 26:17-35; Lk. 22:7-34).
12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’
14 and say to the owner of the house which he enters, “The Master says: Where is the room for me to eat the Passover with my disciples?”
15 He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.’
16 The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover.
17 When evening came he arrived with the Twelve.
19 They were distressed and said to him, one after another, ‘Not me, surely?’
20 He said to them, ‘It is one of the Twelve, one who is dipping into the same dish with me.
22 And as they were eating he took bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. ‘Take it,’ he said, ‘this is my body.’
23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he handed it to them, and all drank from it,
24 and he said to them, ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many.
25 In truth I tell you, I shall never drink wine any more until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.’
26 After the psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives.
28 however, after my resurrection I shall go before you into Galilee.’
29 Peter said, ‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’
31 But he repeated still more earnestly, ‘If I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And they all said the same.
Early on the next day, it seems, Jesus sent two disciples ahead into the city to prepare for the Passover evening meal. This by Jewish law had to be eaten within the city limits, so could not be kept at Bethany. It appears that, as in the case of the donkey, Jesus had already arranged with a friend or follower to lend the room that would be needed. There was nothing supernatural here, any more than there was in Peter’s boat or Joseph’s tomb, both borrowed by Jesus. But the knowledge that the man with the water–jug would meet them may have been supernatural insight of the kind often shown by prophets in the OT, unless it too was a sign that Jesus had arranged. This sort of insight is nowhere promised to Christians generally in the NT, though men like Peter and Paul show it at times. We should, therefore, neither seek nor expect it and be careful of those who claim it.
Mark seems to say that this meal was the Passover, while John seems to say that the actual Passover was on the next day (and that, therefore, Jesus died when the Passover lambs were being killed). If John is correct then this meal of Jesus would have been a preparatory meal. This would account for the fact that no lamb is mentioned, but only bread and wine, for Jesus himself was the lamb. There are several possible explanations of the difficulty. Some have suggested that there were two different religious calendars being used in Jerusalem at the time, with different dates for the Passover. Others have suggested that Mark was using the Roman reckoning of ‘days’ from morning to morning, while John used the Hebrew way of reckoning, from evening to evening. Whichever day it was, this was the evening when Jesus held the first ‘Lord’s Supper’ celebrating his death.
The account of the meal is set between two more warnings of our human weakness. Jesus warned his disciples that one of them would betray him (18). They had no idea who it was but they still had such self–confidence that each refused to believe it could be he. Peter did not stand alone in his self–confidence, though he is usually the chief example. True, even this tragic betrayal finds its place in the plan of God, but that does not make the betrayer less guilty (21). Judas was not a helpless victim, predestined to betray Jesus (this view is the danger of some ‘fatalistic’ religions like Islam) but chose his own path deliberately, though all was known by God beforehand.
The description of the actual meal is very simple. Mark’s hearers would not be familiar with, or interested in, Jewish customs. As usual, the head of the household gave thanks to God for the loaf (not ‘blessed’ it), just as we would before a meal today, broke the loaf, and gave the pieces to the others. This was exactly what he had done at the two miracles of feeding the crowds (were they a picture of the Lord’s Supper too?). What was quite new was that Jesus told them, as he gave it, that this bread stood for and represented his body, so soon to be given and broken on the cross for them. In Aramaic, Jesus’ own language, there is no word for ‘is’. What Jesus would have said was ‘This–my body’. We should not, therefore make any crude, literal interpretation of his words. That in turn will save us from superstitious uses of the bread, like taking fragments home to give to sick children in hope of recovery. The Lord’s Supper is mystery but not magic. Perhaps Jesus meant too that, as our bodily life depends on bread or rice, so our spiritual life must be nourished by complete dependence on him in faith.
If bread was the common Jewish food, wine (usually diluted with water) was the common drink; life depended on both. As at all Jewish meals, God was thanked for the fruit of the vine. What was new was that Jesus told his disciples that the red wine in the cup stood for his blood, the blood that would seal a covenant by being poured out for many. Whether or not we read the word ‘new’ before covenant in v 24 makes little difference. Jesus was referring to the new covenant of which Jer. 31:31 speaks, by which our whole natures would be changed, and God’s law written on our hearts. When Jesus said that his blood would be poured out for many he was going even further, for this was a reference to God’s Suffering Servant in Is. 53:12 who was to bear the sin of many. So we can see that the death of Jesus was to be a ransom–price, a covenant sacrifice and a sin offering; all three are significant whenever we come to the Lord’s table. But, if the wine–cup with its bitter dregs at the bottom of the cup, is a picture of suffering, it is also a picture of joy (25). This supper, before the crucifixion, is a picture of the triumphant ‘Messianic banquet’ in heaven, in which we all will share, with Christ in glory.
So the king, like all kings of Judah, had held his royal banquet. A second warning of the weakness of the disciples followed. It was made easier to bear by news that it had all been foreseen by God (who never expects us to be stronger than we are) and that it would be followed by a joyful reunion in familiar Galilee (28). Mark speaks much of Galilee and Jesus’ ministry there, partly because that was where Jesus began his ministry and partly, perhaps, because Galilee, with its half–Gentile population, spoke of the coming mission to the Gentiles. Galilee was later a great centre of early Christianity, as archaeology has shown. Jesus’ promise here links with the promise of the angel (16:7) that the disciples would meet the risen Christ in Galilee. For the fulfilment see Mt. 28:16, though Mark himself does not record it.
Not only was Peter’s denial foretold but even when it would happen (30), in spite of Peter’s self–confident rejection. (The reference to the cock crowing may be to the actual bird or to the blast of the Roman trumpets that marked that time of the night.) Peter is often singled out as the one who denied Christ, but we must remember that all the disciples insisted that they would never disown Jesus and they too failed to keep their promise.
Thought of the Day: “If I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” Mk. 14: 31
Task for the Day: Visit your friend whom you promised to but you never did
Saturday 20th February
Evangelium: Mt 5,43-48
Thought of the Day: But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; Mt 5: 44
Task for the Day: Pray for your friends and also for those you argue with
Sunday 21th February
Evangelium: Lk 9,28b-36
Thought of the Day: Then taking him outside, he said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars if you can. Just so will your descendants be,’ he told him. Gn 15:5
Task for the Day: Try to read at least 3 good news of today in the newspaper