“Jesus said to His disciples, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer…I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in God’s Kingdom.’ “ (LK 22: 15, 16)
Jesus ‘eagerly desired’ to dine with His friends; those two words convey Jesus’ ardor, His passion for fellowship. Simply put, He longs for communion with us.
The word Luke used for desire is ‘epithumias’ (Gr.), the same word used by James to describe desire that becomes lustful when we attach to false objects of devotion (James 1: 14, 15).
Desire rises and falls on its object. When we lovingly trust Jesus enough to surrender our desires to Him, we can be assured that He will cleanse and fortify the mixed bag we bring to Him: all out of love for us!
I did not overcome lust by suppressing the mixture in me. Rather, I took Jesus’ passion for me seriously and opened my heart to Him. What’s there to hide, anyway? We can know like David that ‘all our longings lay open before God’ (PS 38:9); that truth invites us to commune tenderly with the One who longs for us.
Perhaps after reflecting on 7 deadly sins that afflict each of us, we may be less inclined to focus on sinners out there and to linger before Him for our sakes. We need Him! And He is adept at pruning what is proud and smug and grafting in what will bear fruit forever. Like St. Peter, we may squirm when He bows to wash our feet but it is the only way we can walk where He is going (JN 13: 8).
Being broken by our sin also frees us to gather as Christians. I much prefer a small group of sinners than a band of preening saints. Leading out with smelly feet, not our resumes, invites real community. His healing requires that we linger there. Just as the disciples reclined with Jesus at the Passover meal, with St John leaning on His chest (JN 13:23-25), I want to linger with my fellows, becoming His body broken and His blood shed, one for the other.
If we lived the truth that Jesus’ towel and table–His passion for us—is far more satisfying than other loves, we would not be in the mess we are in today. Our imaginations are so perverse that we cannot imagine St. John resting on Jesus’ frame without suspecting his sexuality. Ah well. We are a mess. Let us race to the table and towel of Jesus this Maundy Thursday, and welcome His passion for us.