Thursday, April 09, 2009
The Gospel for Holy Wednesday is the Passion according to St. Luke. Our custom is a traditional one, to read it by parts. The subdeacon reads the narrator's parts, the celebrant reads Jesus' parts, and the congregation reads the other speakers' parts. The sermon was, as a consequence of the lengthy reading, a short one, highlighting the fact that Jesus is our Passover. The evangelist declares at the opening of the reading that it was the time for the passtover: "Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people." In typical Lucan fashion we are given here a subtle indication of who Jesus is. The antecedent of the pronoun (him) is the Passover. Hence we find throughout this Passion subtle indications of the Passover being fulfilled: they prepare in the upper room (and the Supper is the fulfillment of the Passover meal, as we feast on the Lamb of God); and as the Passover is to be roast with fire, so Jesus in Gethsemane was in agony, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood; and as the people were to eat the Passover in haste, dressed for travel, so Jesus instructed his disciples to take a sword, their scrip, etc. And, of course, as the Passover was killed, so Jesus was crucified.
Something went wrong with the recording, so the sermon was not recorded this time, but it was short.
I thought of mentioning another factor but decided against it. The words of institution in St. Luke do not have "Take, eat / take, drink." Perhaps the reason for that is this emphasis on the Passover. It is roast first, and eaten afterwards, of course. So the emphasis in the words of institution as Luke records them is on the "doing" of this, and the perpetuation of it. The death of the Passover, Christ, results in the feasting in the Passover meal, the Sacrament.
All these are also considerations in preparation for Maundy Thursday, coming up next.