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The Last Supper. Chapter Seventeen in The Alabaster Jar by Theresia Saers

The Last Supper

Chapter Seventeen in The Alabaster Jar by Theresia Saers

When the meal is over, Judas slinks away to the chief priests. Maybe he is angry at Jesus' reproach about the matter of the money for the poor. Maybe he has already considered leaving him since Jesus' early warning of what is in store for his disciples. Maybe he is disappointed about the kind of kingdom Jesus preaches. Whatever the reasons, he promises to deliver his Rabbi into the hands of the Jewish authorities.

On the Eve of the Passover Jesus eats his last supper with his disciples and uses the occasion to teach his most important lesson. When all are seated he leaves the table, removes his outer garment and taking a towel he wraps it round his waist, pours water into a basin and begins to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel he is wearing. 'This is the way of the Kingdom', Jesus says afterwards, ' the highest in rank among you must be everyone' servant.' The disciples are stupefied. This is not their way of thinking. At least five times the gospels tell us that they have been doing just the opposite, quarrelling instead about the best posts in the coming kingdom.

John is the only evangelist to record the event. He recognises it as a sacrament. 'You must do likewise.' Maybe he remembers the words of John the Baptist, who thought himself not even worthy to untie the Saviour's sandals. Perhaps he remembers the meal in Bethany, where Mary Magdalene, righting the lack of courtesy the Pharisee showed her Master, had washed the Lord's feet with her nard and her tears and dried them with her hair. We do not know whether the women were present –why would that important meal be the only time that they were excluded, seeing that they were the providers? - but even if she learned of it afterwards only, Mary must have been deeply touched by this gesture of the Rabbi, which echoed her own.

The Fourth Gospel puts together many of the words Jesus spoke to his disciples. In some Bible editions they are printed the way they were written, without any spaces between one line and the next to make a mental moment of rest possible. Nowadays, editions such as The Jerusalem Bible corrects this unnecessary mental obstacle. So phrases leap out. They seem so true for Mary and the women that followed her to serve Jesus, to minister to him as he ministered to all.

'If you know me, you know my Father too.' John 14,7

'Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.' John 15,4

'You did not choose me, no I chose you.' John 16,16

And the clarion call for Mary Magdalen and the other women, You too will be witnesses, because you have been with me from the outset. ´ I cannot help hearing an echo of the title ´ apostle ´.

© Theresia Saers

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