Every Gospel of this Holy Week puts us at the table with Jesus, the night before he suffered.
At no other time in the church year does Eucharist reveal its meaning so clearly and compellingly. Each day, we gather with the disciples to celebrate with Jesus the Passover meal. With our backdrop a Hebrew meal of sacred remembrance already deeply rich in meaning and practice, we tell the story again.
Here Jesus sums up his life and gives to us a lifetime task of discipleship: the washing of one another’s feet, the breaking of ourselves as bread for others, and the dying to ourselves, in love, which proclaims his life-giving death, and invests the other actions with its ultimate meaning. Each of the three actions describes and enriches the other two – as we are fed, we are food, as we wash, we bring the waters of life, as we make memorial of Jesus’ death we offer our own imperfect pouring out in gratitude for God’s abundant mercies.
In all three the stance of the heart is the same: as T.S. Eliot wrote it, “A condition of complete simplicity (costing not less than everything)” – Little Gidding. He has given us a lifetime’s death in love, and this is what we try to return, a lifetime of becoming what we receive, a lifetime of putting on the Lord Jesus Christ – like a garment. A garment to be woven, which each of us receives in Baptism and along with it, the task of continuing the weaving. Jesus provides the warp threads, endlessly repeated, what he does for us eternally: wash feet, break bread, pour out his life on the cross.
These are the core of our garment – the golden warp threads of his life mingling with ours, structuring ours. All our lives we weave our garment, in and out, over and under, the breaking, the washing, and the dying and rising of Christ Jesus.
What is it we weave? Our growing and becoming, our learning to share, to give, our many ways of serving God’s people and showing ourselves as Living Words. Our service in the ministries we practice, our service in prayer and presence, and our voices raised for the little ones of God, the hungry, the immigrants, the terrorized, the forgotten – and over and over again in this Dominican life we have chosen, our working and praying and preaching peace.
Day by day, year after year, we weave the ordinary: the way we live together, rub up against each other, forgive each other, and our joys and wonderments, memories, and hard times.
Our threads are of countless colors and textures: thin, or thick, more often burlap-rough than silky angora – and all these weft threads are held together by those golden warp-threads, strong and shining, holding a grace-pattern that will never unravel.
We weave with Jesus our savior and brother, our garment of life. We put it on, so small and new and promising at our Baptism. We will wear it someday, clothed in glory, a wedding garment at the Great Banquet, The Feast of the Lamb.
And for now, in this week we call Holy, we ponder this weaving, in and out, over and under, realizing that we wear it unfinished, but serviceable: as a towel, wrapped around our waist.