This year as we move through this dark and wonderful week, we are going to remember the events of Jesus’ last week and try to place ourselves there with Him. We’ll use the Sonnets of Malcolm Guite (Sounding the Seasons from Canterbury Press) to encourage our reflection.
Jesus is condemned to death — David O’Connell
Today’s Bible reading
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?”
“As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there.
When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”
Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?”
He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”
Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?”
And Jesus told him, “You have said it.”
As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”
And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”
Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,
‘God will strike the Shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”…
Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”…
So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”…
Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death. But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, they could not use anyone’s testimony. Finally, two men came forward who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”
“Guilty!” they shouted. “He deserves to die!”
Then they began to spit in Jesus’ face and beat him with their fists. And some slapped him, jeering, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?” — Matthew 26:17-32…36-38…44-46…59-67
More thoughts for meditation:
THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS
1 Jesus is condemned to death
The very air that Pilate breathes, the voice
With which he speaks in judgement, all his powers
Of perception and discrimination, choice,
Decision all his year, his days and hours,
His consciousness of self, his every sense,
Are given by this prisoner, freely given,
The man who stands there making no defence,
Is God, His hands are tied, his heart is open.
And he bears Pilate’s heart in his and feels
That crushing weight of wasted life He lifts
It up in silent love. He lifts and heals.
He gives himself again with all his gifts
Into our hands. As Pilate turns away
A door swings open. This is judgement day.
Suggestions for action
This week as we are quarantined across our church, we’d like to embody our meditation by having each of us do some physical activities to respond to the scripture and sonnets. Our hope is to help each of us recollect how Jesus is with us throughout our day. We will gather online each evening, but before that time here are some suggestions:
Find a flat surface in your home that you can free from other objects. It could be an end table, coffee table, window sill, etc. It’s best if this is in a central place that you will pass by throughout your daily activity. Placing a candle on it as a reminder that the Light of the World is with you is a good first step. Each day this guide will suggest that you find an object to place on this small sacred spot you’re creating that represents the movement of the day.
Today we’re focused on the Last Supper and the condemnation of Jesus. Jesus reminds His friends that He is to suffer and willingly faces betrayal. He sees something more beyond the Cross. He gives Himself utterly without holding back. So find something that symbolizes this ultimate love poured out for you and me. Tradition suggest bread or wine. Those are good. Let your imagination be free. Place the item on your sacred space and pray this prayer with all of us:
Dear One – You saw what was coming and endured the weaknesses of Your friends. You do the same for me. Thank You. You asked for another way and then You did not turn away from our deepest needs, but toward them. You trusted that light would overcome the darkness of this world, that love would conquer death. Help me see as You see.
Breath Prayer: (Inhale): Your heart is open (Exhale): to me.
Set your phone to ring today at 3 hour intervals. Traditional hours of prayers in monasteries would be 9am, 12pm, 3pm and lastly Vespers which we will set at 9pm this week. Tonight we hope you will join us online for Vespers at 9pm. When your phone rings at the hours today (or you just remember!) stop for a few moments at your sacred space and repeat the Breath Prayer for the day. You could take several minutes in this pause or if it’s a busy time for you, just stop for a moment or so to draw your mind and heart consciously into God’s presence with you.
In times of stress like we are all experience during the pandemic, we need to attend to our minds, spirits and our bodies with care. Sleep is particularly important for our bodies to combat the impacts of stress so be gentle with yourself and don’t neglect your need for sleep; however, we also need to turn our attention very consciously toward the positive. These interludes in your day are designed to offer help in this practice of attunement with God. Find a rhythm that works for you and adjust the hours as needed.
You might want to show us your prayer object on social media. That could help us be together in this rhythm. If you do use #sacredspot2020
Today is Dietrich Bonhoeffer Day! Honor this martyr who resisted the Nazis in word and deed at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body..