Holy Thursday: Our Unexpected Table Fellowship

March 28, 2024 | Sr. Teresa Maya, CCVI | Today’s Readings

“I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”  (John 13:15)

We have all been there, those moments when we improvise a meal for unexpected guests or in response to difficult news. The table starts collecting random bits of food: leftovers, fruit, and crackers. We scramble to prepare something, hoping our heartfelt hospitality can offer some kind of comfort. We might be hearing heartbreaking news, trying to accompany someone’s loss, or welcoming a weary traveler. 

The table fellowship we offer is our best effort to be present and stay together.

Perhaps these fellowships offer some insight into the Last Supper. This was not the usual meal with Jesus; these were not the conversations about the next town they would visit or trying to understand his latest parable.

There must have been more silence and some sadness, like those improvised table fellowships when we are comforting someone for the loss of a loved one. The pauses get longer as we wonder what to say, how to say it, and whether we should say anything at all. The words of Jesus are offered here: “one of you will betray me… before the cock crows three times … do this in memory of me” (Luke 22). Jesus knew this was a goodbye dinner; the last time they would eat together.

The disciples were trying to understand, hoping there was another way.

We have those conversations as well, trying to explain our way through loss or suffering. A welcoming table creates a sacred space that humanizes our experience.

I often wonder what the last meal of a person condemned to the death penalty is like. After all, the Last Supper we celebrate today was just that kind of meal for Jesus because he knew he would be condemned to death.

We are called to create every possibility for human flourishing, but when that is not possible, when injustice has prevailed yet another day, we need to gather around the table of fellowship Jesus sets for us. We need to allow the precious meal he offers us tonight to nourish and encourage.

This is the Eucharist that revives our commitment to justice; this is the meal where Jesus reminds us, “As I have done for you, you should also do.”