Palm Sunday of The Lord’s Passion
To eat the Passover today
When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it (again) until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you (that) from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you. “And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table; for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed.” And they began to debate among themselves who among them would do such a deed. Lk 22,14-23
“I so much desired to eat this Passover with you” Jesus says in the today passage, which narrates about the last supper. Why Jesus had for so long this desire? …To penetrate the meaning of this sentiment it is necessary to think about what it was the meaning for the Hebrew to eat the Passover. The word Passover derives from the Aramaic “pasha” which means “go further”. In the Ancient Testament to eat the Passover was meaning to celebrate the liberation of the Hebrew people, guided by Moses from the Egypt slavery to the freedom of the desert via the crossing of the Red Sea, which the Lord opened in front of them. This was a grand event, strongly opposed by the Pharaoh, who wanted to keep the Hebrews as slaves, to have them working to the very important construction works which we still today admire, but also by a significant amount of the Hebrew people, because the slavery has its own advantages and the freedom has a price to be paid. To be liberated persons means to bear the responsibility of our own decisions. Having eventually arrived to the Promised Land, the Hebrew people, to celebrate their liberation, were used “to eat the Passover”, possibly banqueting with the lamb immolated by the priests in the temple of Jerusalem. For Jesus “to eat the Passover” means to make those rituals and those events only symbols: the liberation from the slavery becomes the liberation of the man from the sin and he is the lamb to be immolated. When Jesus says: “This is my body, which is given for you….This is my blood, which is poured for you”, his reference is the event of the Calvary. In Jesus, however, the desire to eat the Passover with the disciples is mixed with the fear of the getting closer to the cross and with the bitterness for the treason: “I am troubled now” (Jn 12,27) and “Here we are, the hand of the treacherous is with me, on this table”. Also for us “to eat the Passover” means to celebrate a ritual and to implement a passage. The ritual is the sacrament of the Eucharist, where the Church, actualizing the sacrifice of Jesus on the Calvary, uses, in the celebration, the same words of the today gospel; “This is my body, which will be given for you, do this in memory of me” and “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you”. The passage is the conversion which we have to implement from the old man to the new man, by accepting to be liberated by Jesus Christ, as in the Old Testament the Hebrew people accepted to be liberated from the slavery of the Egypt. Then, the question to which we have to answer is: from what, in practice, have we to accept to be liberated?…First of all we have to accept to have been liberated from our sin, forgiven, saved and redeemed by Jesus Christ. Subsequently, it means to discover again the love of the Lord, with the consequence to start to live for him and for the others, going from the concept of “mine” to that of “ours”. Finally, it means to go from a justice which applies the revenge to the practice of the forgiveness. The prize of this “conversion” will be to go from the sadness to a never ending joy. It is a chain reaction, which is started by accepting the donation of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and by believing in his resurrection.