And so we wait.

Holy Thursday has always been one of my favorite rituals in the Church’s year. Most especially, I love spending time at the altar of repose. It is a peaceful time, a place of waiting, a call to radical presence. Here Christ remains present to us in the fruit of the earth (bread) and in the reality of our lives. Christ is present to us, and we to him. And here we wait…

The altar of repose commemorates the time Jesus spent in the garden before being arrested, where he asks his friends to remain with him a little while longer. In the gospel of John, the agony in the garden is replaced by long monologues and discourses where Jesus gives final counsel to his friends. He desires their presence and closeness during this most difficult night. At this point, Judas has already left and will return shortly to betray Jesus. And so we wait…

The next few chapters of John’s gospel are filled with reassuring words about Jesus’ love for his friends, and his promise to always abide with them. Maybe on this sacred night, one of these will speak to your spirit.

“Let not your hearts be troubled…”(Jn 14:1a)
“When I go to prepare a place for you, I will come and take you to myself.”(Jn 14: 3a)
“Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it…” (Jn 14:13)
“Peace I leave with you, my own peace I give to you.” (Jn 14:27)
“Abide in my love.” (Jn 15:9b)
“Love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn15:12b)

Victoria L. Battell, RSM

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