Whenever I read Luke 22 I marvel at the dynamics which were shared around the table at The Last Supper. It always reminds me of the relationships that exist in our own lives, how we often fail to listen to each other and grasp the true meaning of what is being said. When the hour came, Jesus said to his apostles “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer for I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” He takes the cup of wine and says “take this and divide it among you for I will not drink again the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” He broke the bread and said “this is my body, do this in remembrance of me. This cup is the new covenant, which is poured out for you but the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table tonight. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed.”
Jesus has proclaimed to his closest friends, the original disciples, that he is about to fulfill what has been prophesized by Isaiah and written by David in Psalm 22 “My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet.” Yet they fail to hear his Word and grasp its true meaning. Jesus is filled with anxiety as he struggles to accept the cup that has been willed by the Father but the apostles are oblivious to it.
Instead of listening to the words spoken by Jesus and grasping the true meaning, the apostles begin to debate between themselves which one at the table would betray Him. Even worse, at this critical moment they discuss which of them was considered to be the greatest. Can you imagine how exasperated Jesus might have been at that moment if he was anything like us? He has described the coming of the kingdom, told them that he is about to die for our sins to fulfill his destiny yet they don’t hear him. They debate amongst themselves which one is the better man, the greatest.
Listen to each other. We spend too much time texting, emailing and chatting but very little time listening. Take the time to hear what is being said and listen to what Jesus taught the apostles – greatness isn’t measured by awards or honors - you will only be the greatest if you are one that serves and is humble. It is the heart of our Augustinian values.
Richard P. Brennan
Villanova University Board of Trustees