Exodus 12: 1-8, 11-14; ICor 11: 23-26; John 13: 1-15
“It is the Passover of the Lord.” We hear that line in this evening’s first reading from the Book of Exodus. In just a few chapters, which we’ll hear at the Easter Vigil on Saturday, the Israelites will embark on one of the greatest, wildest, and toughest journey’s yet as they find themselves in exile and moving to and through the Red Sea. But tonight, it’s the Passover of the Lord. Splatting of blood on doorposts. Sacrificing the lamb. The telling of their story, our story of passing through.
Yet, so often, it seems to be, that the motivation of people Israel has more to do with survival and living, getting by, than anything else. In the larger scheme of their story and our story, it’s no wonder. On this night in the marking of Passover, blood splattered on doorposts, is a reminder of how much death and suffering has haunted their lives and they must never forget. But as it is for all of us, it’s easy to get stuck right there, victims of our own suffering and never passing through; through exodus, through Red Sea, through the Cross. We learn to survive, to just get by in life, just as they so often did. But tonight they remember their larger story and how they must remain connected to the larger story lest they fall prey to victimhood in their own lives. It’s not about stopping there, in their own suffering, learning to survive, it’s about passing through. For them and us, to the Promised Land, to the eternal life promised.
But Scripture and these stories of salvation history must be viewed in their entirety. There is a progression of the human person and people Israel. There’s a set-up that takes place between the old way, a life about survival, and a new way that Jesus teaches, shows, and lives. A movement in motivation and intent that is no longer based on survival and living in the past and viewing life from that lens. Rather, a life rooted and motivated in and led by love. We too can become “stuck” in survival mode, rooted not in love, but so often in fear and pain.
Jesus shows us that in tonight’s gospel from John, in one that we are all familiar with, the washing of the disciples feet. There are no signs of the splattering of blood, nor even of breaking of bread as we hear from Paul this evening. No, rather, in this movement beyond movements, Jesus moves to a vulnerable place, takes off the outer garments, as we will do to this altar as we conclude this evening, no longer motivated by survival but rather in and through love from Love himself. Just think about what it must have been like. Even if they didn’t know crucifixion was about to take place, there was still a building of tension, wary disciples, fearful, missing the point, and yet, Jesus stoops down, becomes vulnerable to them, and washes their feet. One who will betray. One who will deny. Many who will run. Yet, it never stops Jesus from this act of love.
It is the Passover of the Lord. Do this in remembrance of me. Now we don’t splatter blood or sacrifice lambs, but the passover is us as well. In these days when we remember the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord, it is the mystery that we too are invited into in these days and in our lives. “Do this” is even more than breaking bread and pouring wine, lest we separate what we do hear from our daily lives. Throughout our lives we face great suffering beyond the physical pain that we often face. Sometimes the greatest of suffering that Jesus teaches us is letting go of ourselves, our own ego, that often stands in the way of us passing through. Even up to the point when the Israelites were passing through the Red Sea, they were holding onto what no longer was. They had to let go and trust in order to pass through and continue the journey to the Promised Land. It is only by and through Love that they pass through, not free of suffering and loss, but movement to a deeper love.
As we enter into these days of Passion, Death and Resurrection, we pray we may consistently place our lives in the hands of Love so that we may be transformed and hearts changed into love. Do this in remembrance of me. As we pass through, remembering the passion of our Lord and the passion we share it, we enter with hope knowing that life awaits. We, like the Israelites and the larger story we share in, can move beyond our own survival and even the life we want, to a life of love so that all we do is motivated by and lived through Love. We now await that great act of love of the one who’s passion we remember…