February 2014

\"I h ave eagerly desired to eat (this Passover) with you\"
[Luke 22.15 NRSV]

These words were spoken by Jesus as a kind of preface to the final meal that he was to share with his closest companions, the Twelve: the meal we call The Last Supper. Christians reflect on this in som e depth twice during the year: during Passiontide (Maundy Thursday), and at the festival of Corpus Christi when the focus is on the centre-point of Christi an worship, the Holy Communion or Eucharist.

We are commonly taught that we come to Holy Communion as guests of the Lord to share this deeply symbolic meal with him and to be blessed as we partake with and of him. That is sound teaching and it takes us some way into understanding the mystery of our association with the Lord Jesus. We are receivers of God\'s bounty, the spiritual food which is the very life of Jesus.

But listening contemplatively to this Saying will jolt us into a new and perhaps surprising awareness of what is going on. We begin to see it from G od\'s standpoint rather than our own perspective. The words eagerly desired render the Greek word epithumia and its verb epithumeo meaning \"strong des ire\". The phrase speaks of a deep longing at the heart of God, expressed and made real by Jesus, to share in table fellowship with the human beings he c reated and loves. This is astonishing. True table fellowship is not simply to do with sharing food: it is profoundly symbolic of close and personal relatio nship. In shared meals, especially when they are celebratory, whether religious like a Passover or social like a reception, our common need and longing for nourishment is more than matched by the meeting of our deep longing for understanding, companionship, recognition, respect and love.

< div>So when Jesus declares with some emphasis how much he has been longing to share this meal, he is putting into word and action God\'s unending desire to develop his living relationship with us, and to promote and bring to maturity our loving relationship with him. Another expression of this is given in R evelation 3.20. Behold: I stand at the door and knock: if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. It is helpful to meditate on this text for a while before contemplatively receiving the spirit and life of this month\'s Saying