The Last Supper is the beginning of the Christian Eucharist. Throughout the centuries since then Christians have done as Jesus asked, and broken bread and shared wine in memory of him. It was most probably a Passover meal, at which by tradition the host would dip into the blessing cup a piece of bread, and offer the sop of bread-soaked wine to his honoured guest.
At the Last Supper, when Jesus celebrated with his friends the Passover, that momentous occasion when the people of God were protected from death’s angel by the blood of the sacrificial lamb smeared on the lintels of their houses, he the host offered the sop to the guest who that night stood most in need of his love, Judas, who would betray him.
From that moment on Judas’ life began to unravel, and his choices ended in unendurable remorse and death at his own hand. He became unbearable to himself. But it did not stop there. God does not give up that easily.
At every Eucharist in the course of 2,000 years, one by one by one, millions of believers have stood in the place of Judas and humbly received the bread and wine held out by the divine host for the transformation of souls and the healing of the world. God has never given up on Judas. We are all one in Jesus. In each one of us Judas the betrayer is sought, beheld, and forgiven. The Judas in us is touched and cleansed by the Jesus we meet in bread and wine.
For many believers, the story of Judas is one of the most sombre and disquieting in the whole Bible. How do you feel about Judas?
Peter also betrayed Jesus but, though he was also overwhelmed with remorse, he did not end his life in despair but lived with what he had done. And the risen Jesus came and found him, and forgave him. Can you think of examples from your own life of seeing things through, not giving up, seeing sunrise again after impossible darkness?
The phrase “toxic shame” is very accurate. People live through some terrible circumstances, but living with the shame of having done something terribly wrong can be unendurable. The greatest gift of God is forgiveness, the grace of a new beginning. Are there people in your life whom you would like to forgive? Is there something for which you need to be forgiven? Is this the time to lay these matters quietly before God, and allow the new to begin?
O God of love, your kindness and mercy are inexhaustible. You never give up on us, never abandon us, and never turn anybody away. In the quietness now, we open our hearts to you. We ask you to look well, and begin to heal and transform any shadows of resentment, any old grudges, any scars of toxic shame. Forgive us, loving Father, for the things we are ashamed of, the things we have done wrong, and give us grace, in our turn, to forgive. For we ask it in Jesus’ holy name; Amen.