Painting a Picture – Part 2

Yesterday, I promised to paint a picture for you of the Last Supper using the Old Testament (OT). This picture, like any master piece, may take some time to develop. We will see how it goes. Today, I want to answer the question – what does the Creation story tell us about the Last Supper and its meaning? This will be my way of pulling out the canvas and some pencils so I can start to rough out some of the details of the painting.
In the beginning, God created us. In his image and likeness, he created man and woman. It doesn’t matter if this story is a myth[1] or real or some combination of both. It was divinely inspired. It tells us something about God and his reasons for creating us. It tells us that as his creation, we are good.
He made two trees, the tree of life, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve could eat of the tree of life, and the fruit was eternal life. In this era of time, there was only one command, one law – do not eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil. The result of disobeying God was death.
What we see in the Eden version of the creation story is a God who walks with his creation. We see a God who is present to us. I can picture God sitting down to eat with Adam and Eve, sharing a meal, sharing communion with them. But, we all know how the story goes, right? The serpent, the cunning creature, tempts the woman into disobeying God, and she in turn passes the fruit to Adam. Alas, sin enters the world, and humanity becomes its own god, its own creator of the rules of good and evil. The great divide between God and man came into existence.
I find great humor in this part of the story. Let’s look at what Adam and Eve do with all their new found wisdom. They don fig leaves to cover their nakedness. Have you ever googled fig leaves? The first thing they do is put a leaf with caustic properties on their “nakedness”! Ouch! I can’t say that this seems very wise to me!
Here our loving God, who knew from the beginning that we would disobey, shows his creation great compassion. In the face of our disobedience, he takes from them their painful choice of clothing, and makes them clothes out of soft animal skins. Then, like any parent who has to enforce the rules, he shuts the gate and places an angel with the fiery swords to protect the tree of life.
I want to back up, and address one final issue. Did you notice how Adam tells God that he was hiding because he was naked? This used to puzzle me because the previous verses say that they had already clothed themselves with their finest choice of materials. Why did they really hide from God? In my meditation on this question, I saw their shame; I saw their fear of disappointing God. Because of this, fig leaves have become for me a symbol of sin and shame. In some respects, I see sinners wearing layers of fig leaves, and God, in his mercy, wants to work with us to remove these fig leaves. He wants to replace them with something more fitting for our station in life as his creation.
In summary, what pieces of the picture have we sketched on the canvas. I suggest that in this divinely inspired story God reveals many things. He revealed that we are good, but that we choose things that are not for our good. He tells us that his original intention was for us to be in union with him; to walk with him in a land of milk and honey. We are the ones who choose differently. In some sense, it is in our nature to be out of communion with God, but he has a plan that will restore the original balance. First, he has to finish the OT painting so we can comprehend what Jesus means in the Last Supper.

[1] Myth, a symbolic narrative, usually of unknown origin and at least partly traditional, that ostensibly relates actual events and that is especially associated with religious belief.

© Debra Weldon, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Painting a Picture – Part 1

Yesterday, I opened facebook, and there were many photos of mom at different times in her life.  Tears flooded my eyes.  I miss her. While I am blessed to go to a nursing facility and love all over my mom who has dementia, the woman she once was is hidden somewhere inside of her.

I miss sharing my spiritual journey with her, and her pearls of wisdom, like, “live the question.” I long to ask her about her experience with the changes after Vatican II. How did she get so catechized in those matters? How did she raise us with such good Catechesis so close to the closing of the council?  What was the most important aspect to her? What did she think was the worst?  What did her mom think about it? Did she ever think about being something other than Catholic?  I suppose I know her favorite aspect of Catholicism.  She loved the Eucharist. It makes me sad that in her dementia, she no longer recognizes Jesus in the breaking of the bread.  She loved Eucharistic adoration. She loved helping other people fall in love with adoration.  I wonder if she is the key to why I have such a fascination with the Eucharist. It is a timeless miracle that causes conversion, repentance, and unity.  If we could only all see the meaning behind Jesus at the Last Supper, we might all live differently.  Then, if I could fully take to heart the meaning of the Eucharist, then peace could more fully begin with me.

As I take a stab at my newly professed career as a freelance writer, I think I will start with sharing my mother’s main love with the rest of the world. I do not profess to share her full understanding of the Eucharist. Outside of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, I don’t know what she thought. At the same time, both of my papers this last semester had to do with the Last Supper in some form or fashion.

I suppose the question is – where does one begin? There are so many potential readers out, each with their own thought construct on what it means, and I respect everyone’s viewpoint. I just feel called to preach, and I hope that you feel free to enter into a discourse with me about the similarities and differences we share in regards to the Eucharist.

Having said that, I think the right starting point is the Old Testament (OT). My Gospels Professor this semester said that many people think the NT could be deleted from the Christian canon of Scripture.  I was thunderstruck! How can anyone understand the New Testament (NT) without the old? I suppose some people think that you can do it.  I don’t see how.  From my perspective, God painted a picture of salvation history in the stories of the OT.  If the brush strokes of the OT are not built into the NT painting, how can one see all of the detail?  I posit that one cannot.  Let me take the next few days or weeks or months to pencil in the sketch of the OT, and see if it helps you to better understand the full painting of the Eucharist, and the impact I think it has on the meaning of being a Christian.

I will close here, but hope to see you back here tomorrow as we begin with Genesis, and some of the symbolic meaning in the story of Adam and Eve.

© Debra Weldon, 2019. All Rights Reserved.