Even before we celebrate the actual day of the Last Supper, the Church calls us to consider would be happening on that every special evening of service, the washing of feet, as well as a pitiable evening of group dysfunction and ultimate reaffirmation of intention on Jesus' part.
Read today's gospel story in light of experience, family experience. We all know of those family gatherings which for one reason or another start off with wonderful greetings among siblings and spouses, children and grandchildren. Then there is the moment when someone brings to the table a deeply buried disappointment, a bruised ego, or felt rejection by another member of the group or, at times, by the entire group. We see these scenes depicted in movies or in TV shows. It is the portrayal of the reality of Original Sin, isn't it? It is an event, in its beginning that would bring much happiness, satisfaction and pride to parents or grandparents. It is like one of those instructional dinners we see so often in the TV show Blue Bloods when grandfather, dad as well as children and grandchildren gather to celebrate their pride in being a good, Irish, Catholic family. Four of the men are officers of the NYPD. All goes well until one of the family says something or questions the actions of another. The tensions mount.
The Last Supper is no different. The Church wants us to see, I believe, that even in good families or groups there always can be the effects of sinfulness if the group is not careful. Our friend, Jesus, is caught in the middle this time. What we witness today is how delicate human relations can be even in the group of people who walked and worked with Jesus for some three years. The Little Company who was so proud of The Way that Jesus had taught them is, like an elegant piece of glass, shattered by one man's personal problems.
The is the gathering of The Company when the members learn that for some reason or another one of them was about to leave the Last Supper to sell their brother, their leader, for a mere pittance -- 30 pieces of silver. Considered from a merely human perspective, this is the beginning of the end for the one that had done so much for the group. There must have been the recollection of sad moments for the group: those moments when one or another of the group demonstrated his human weakness. Failing to understand who Jesus really is. Seeking special places of honor next to him in the new kingdom. Again, these special men were no different than most human beings.
Let us look at our friend in this particular dilemma. Let us consider how he has confronted the same failures in our lives but at the same times will not fail to look to us and smile with the words "Don't forget: I truly love you." Again this is your friend who is bringing to fulfillment the will of his Father. This is your friend who looks to you in your life to recognize that his passion and death are not his end. They are for all humankind his gift of peace and salvation. Your friend, my friend: could there be any greater gift in this life that this love of Jesus, our friend, for each one of us?