Friends, in today’s Gospel the Lord recognizes Judas as his betrayer. And after this he performs his greatest wonder.
In the course of the supper, Jesus identifies himself so radically with the Passover bread and wine that they become his Body and his Blood. Like broken bread, the Lord says, his body will be given away in love; and like spilled wine, his blood will be poured out on behalf of many.
How does this terrible gathering come to a close? They sing! Matthew tells us, “Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Can you imagine a condemned criminal blithely singing on the eve of his execution? Wouldn’t there be something odd, even macabre, about such a display?
But Jesus knows—and his Church knows with him—that this joyful outburst, precisely at that awful time, is altogether appropriate. This is not to deny for a moment the terror of that night or the seriousness of what will follow the next day; but it is to acknowledge that an act of total love is the passage to fullness of life.
Reflect: Songs of thanksgiving always concluded the Passover meal. “Eucharist” means thanksgiving. How are you thankful for the events of today’s Gospel?