One word has captured me during Lent. I wake up with it. It is my night prayer. During the day it startles me when I am in the midst of work or play.

The word is “this.”

In Scripture, Luke is the only evangelist who records these words from his rendition of the Last Supper: This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19

Later, Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians: This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Cor 11:24

Jesus’ command is “Do this in remembrance of me.” What exactly does this mean? How did those at the Last Supper understand what Jesus said?

Those words are the basis for Christian Eucharist/Communion/Lord’s Supper. They have become ritualized and are heard every time there is a Communion service in a Protestant Church or at a Catholic Mass.

I’m not interested in the different beliefs about Real Presence. What has me tied up is whether the word “this” means more? Could “this” mean that Jesus was asking all of us to live like he did? After all, he was giving his body which had just been through three years (that we know of) doing ministry in which he daily gave his body/his life. I say this quite intentionally.  

When I first began thinking about the word “this,” it sent me back to the New Testament to see exactly where this ministry of Jesus might lead me. Did Jesus really want me to feed the hungry all the time? One in six children in Nashville goes to bed hungry every day. That is 197,490 by our last census. Where would I start? Look out for those on the margins? Wait a minute—who is on the margins where I live? What are people going to say if I start hanging out with drag queens? The governor here just condemned them. Am I supposed to give to the poor? Gosh, I’m not independently wealthy but does this mean I have to give up Starbucks? I was stuck in the Beatitudes but it went on and on and I looked at my life and asked: “Pat, what are you doing? Are you doing “this” today in his memory?” In the middle of Holy Week, mayBE we might ask the question:

How are we living the “this?”

Pat Pickett, OblSB

Photo: Presider preparing the Eucharist at Saint Benedict’s Monastery, taken by Sister Nancy Bauer