Mandatum novum do vobis.

March 20, 2008

“I give you a new commandment.”

Today is Maundy Thursday, Holy Thursday according to my calendar.

The final days of Holy Week are upon us – on this night, our Lord instituted the Eucharist, prayed the High Priestly Prayer as found in John’s narrative and entered into the agony of the garden. This is the night that he was betrayed, when he took bread into his sacred hands, and looking up to You, his Almighty Father, he broke the bread, gave thanks and gave it to his disciples, saying “Take this, all of you, and eat it.”

On this night of betrayal, during the final moments before the collision of Jerusalem and Rome and at the end of a week in which crowds welcomed their savior and then condemned him to death, He prayed that his disciples may be one, even as we are one.

This night, and the days to come – they send ripples through time itself. Backwards, they are seen in our collective longing for redemption, reflected in a thousand imperfect myths and dramas. Forwards, they’ll move towards the day that He returns in glory, gently lapping the shore of the world to come, the one without end. How could it be otherwise, when the Author enters his own story, befriends the characters and then departs from the page?

“Rum thing,” said a friend of Lewis, during a fireside conversation. “Rum thing, that stuff of Frazer’s about the Dying God. It almost looks as if it really happened once.” And this from an avowed atheist, as steadfast as Lewis was at the time.

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