MEDITATIONS ON THE PASSION: The Last Supper Which CHRIST Made With His Disciples
VEEN, Otto van
The Last Supper
Of the last supper which CHRIST made with his Disciples
Now the feast of unleavened bread, which is called the pasch, was at hand. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might put Jesus to death: but they feared the people. And Satan entered into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot, one of the twelve. And he went, and discoursed with the chief priests and the magistrates, how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised. And he sought opportunity to betray him in the absence of the multitude. And the day of the unleavened bread came, on which it was necessary that the pasch should be killed.And he sent Peter and John, saying: Go, and prepare for us the pasch, that we may eat. But they said: Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said to them: Behold, as you go into the city, there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water: follow him into the house where he entereth in. And you shall say to the goodman of the house: The master saith to thee, Where is the guest chamber, where I may eat the pasch with my disciples? And he will shew you a large dining room, furnished; and there prepare. And they going, found as he had said to them, and made ready the pasch. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said to them: With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you, before I suffer.
Wisdom hath built herself a house, she hath hewn her out seven pillars. She hath slain her victims, mingled her wine, and set forth her table. Prov 9
1. When the hour was come, JESUS sat down together with the twelve. See how the Lord sitteth together with his servants, the Master with his Disciples, the Father with his sons, and the Pastor together with his beloved flock. Yea he was in manner of a most meek lamb, amongst meek sheep, amongst the which was also that ravening wolf that fierce dog Judas the traitor. O blessed Jesus was it not enough to have tolerated so long time in your company this cruel and bloody beast, but farther in this very last hour which you have chosen to comfort yourself a little with your most dear Disciples, you permit him to be present, and with the gall of his inquity to make bitter your most sweet conversation? It is evidently since my Lord, that to give us pure & perfect consolation, you would have all your own comfort to be mingled with so great bitterness.
2. O holy Apostles, O Princes of the earth, which are at this prefect with so great comfort, eating and drinking with your dear master: go to prepare yourself & take up your shield, arm yourselves with a strong and constant faith, for within few hours you shall find yourselves in the midst of weapons, environs round about with enemies: but you,vanquished with fear, shall fly away, leaving your good Pastor amongst the claws and jaws of ravening wolves.
3. O my soul,let us go to this supper, for itis the most noble, and the most precious that ever was in the world, for albeit in appearence it seemeth poor, yet therein is found, all the riches all the goodness, & all the beautifulness, which can either be seen or tasted in Paradise. O how happy should I account myself,if I had been worthy to be present at that most happy banquet, and in some thing or other to serve my Redeemer,and gather up the crumbs which fell from these divine hands,to contemplate that reverent face which the Angels do desire to behold, & to hear from the mouth of the eternal Word, those works most sweet then the honey comb. I think certainly that I should not have been able to have contained myself from prostrating me at those most holy feet, and washing them with tears, as long before Mary Magdalene did: And you most begin Lord, as you despised not her, would not likewise have despised me, howbeit a most unworthy sinner, but seeing me so poor would have opened the bowels f your mercy,and given me also as you did you disciples some spiritual refection.
4. I have greatly desired, said Christ to his Disciples, to eat with you this Pasche: Our Lord had at other times eaten the lamb, and made the Pasche with his Disciples, yet he never said the like words before. Now than were there two causes of this his great desire. One, in respect of the meat which he intended to give them, an other in consideration of himself which gave it unto them. For in all the other Pasche,he had eaten with them the lamb roasted and bread of Azimes as the law commanded, but in this his last supper he intended not to give the many more shadows & figures,but to give unto them himself the true lamb which was prefigured thereby,wherefore our Saviors desire was to make an end of all ceremonies of the old law,and to give a beginning to anew Pasche, wherein not the typical lamb, but the true lamb which which was to take away the sins of the world,was to be sacrificed and eaten. The second cause was because that in this Pasche was to be accomplished that most lonely desire of his hart which he always had of communicating himself wholly and by all means possible unto man, whereby afterwards that he was in so divers manners communicated unto him,even unto the clothing of himself with human flesh,to be better able to converse with man and to draw him unto himself, there remained nothing else to transform man perfectly and to make him oneself same thing with him, but for to give himself unto him for meat. Blessed JESUS therefore having for the space of thirty years run after us with a most burning thirst, to deliver us out of the hands of the Devil, to bring us back again unto his fold,and to restore unto us the salvation which we had lost, seeing now the day come wherein these his desires were accomplished, he giveth sign by these words: of his inward joy & consolation.
5. But O blessed JESUS, they which to eat this Pasche have great reason to be joyful for the remembrance of this singular benefit which you have bestowed on them: but you which are the lamb which with such barbarous cruelty is to be sacrificed & killed for the salvation of the world, have rather cause of sorrow and sadness. But I see, sweet Lord that this your desire proceedeth from overmuch love which you bear me, which causeth that you more account & esteem my good then your harm and rejoice in my salvation which is to result from your death, then grieve for the death which you have to suffer. O most desired of all nations, how far different are your desires from ours, & how much do you exceed all other with your charity! The Angels in Heaven desire to see your face, but, to the end they may enjoy you and be blessed: The Prophets and ancient Fathers desired your coming, but it was to have of you life and salvation: but you desire ti be with us, not for any profit of yours,but only to suffer and die for our salvation.
6. Afterward our Lord said to his Disciples that he was no more to celebrate this ceremonial Pasche,wherein was eaten the lamb,and drunken the wine in figure, till it should be fulfilled in the kingdom of God, that is to say, until that by his death he having destroyed sin, & by his resurrection justified our souls, should begin to reign in his Church, for then would he celebrate with them that new and perfect Pasche, wherein he would feed them with the true lamb, that is, with his most precious body and blood. Then the old shadows should be converted into light, the figures into truth,and the law into the Gospel. Then the sending of the Holy Ghost from Heaven, the world should begin plainly to know that Christ was the true Son of God and King of Heaven and Earth, and his spiritual and divine kingdom should begin to increase and dilate itself over the whole world, in the which time also, the faithful people (as it is written in the acts of the Apostles) began with joy and simplicity of hart to frequent this lively Bread, and to celebrate this mysterious Sacrament. O happy Kingdom,O blessed are those to whom our Lord ,is their God, and their King,and which are worthy to sit at this Table, and to make this new Pasche with our sweet Jesus, in the which he himself is the invite, he with his own hands serverth us, he is the meat wherewith we are fed,and he likewise incorporating us in himself, by means of this most amorous meat, together with us is also fed. O man acknowledge thy dignity,acknowledge thy faithful lover and Redeemer,and be not ungrateful for so infinite benefits,and if thou hast not else wherewith all to recompense him, at least yield him thanks,and love him which so dearly loved thee.
Thou shalt pray CHRIST our Lord,that as he made in this refectory,the last supper with his Disciples, even so he will with the gifts of his holy spirit, prepare in thy soul, a refectory, great and adorned, whither he may vouchsafe to come,for to inhabit and supp with thee, taht thou being united with him by the links of charity, mayest by his grace always think and do all suh things as are pleasing to his Majesty,and detest and avoid those which are contrary,and by persevering herein until the end be made worthy to be called unto that blessed supper of the marriage of the lamb, to the which are called all his elect.
1. Christ supping and doing works of charity to his Disciples, excluded not Judas the traitor, of whom he knew himself to have been sold. Even so we in the works which we do for the benefit of our neighbor, must not exclude anyone, but do well unto all, and pray as well for them which hate us, as for those which love us.
2. If our Lord sometime defer the accomplishing of our desires,although they are good and holy, we must not be sorrowful nor discouraged:seeing that Christ our Lord expected so many years before that he could accomplish the desire which he had of our salvation.
3. Christ which knew full well how miserable this life is, and how precious death, had always life in contempt,and death in desire. But we most blind and carnal,which taste nothing else,and prize no other thing, but than which here we see:do greatly abhor death,and over greedily desire life.
4. Christ giving the Chalice unto his Disciples, said unto them, that they should divide it amongst them: by this Chalice was signified the tribulations and bitterness of this life, the which our Lord will have us divide amongst us that us to have compassion one of another, to bear the burden one of another, and to succor the necessities one of another,and in so doing we shall fulfill the law of Christ, conformable to the saying of the apostle. Alter alterius onera portate, et sic adimplebitis lege Christi.
5. Christ promised his Disciples, that then he would perfectly eat with them the Pasche, when he should reign in his Church, which thing he now performeth with all faithful Christians, when as they worthily communicating Christ likewise eateth with them, as his members. Now if such dignity of a Christian, as this is,to eat together with Christ, doth not move us to frequent this divine Sacrament: at least let this move us to the intent that hereafter at the day of judgment he may say unto us Come ye blessed of my Father,because when I was hungry ye gave me to eat.
6. The true Paschal lamb, that is Christ in the blessed Sacrament, ought to be eaten in such manner as he did eat the legal lamb. First with bread of Azimes without leaven, that is with a pure conscience,without malice or will to sin. Secondly with lettuces, that is with bitterness of contrition of our sins. Thirdly with our reins girded by continence of the flesh. Fourthly with shoe on our feet: that is, with our affections cleansed from earthly things, Fifthly with staves in our hand that is with a vigilant care and custody of ourselves.