“In Memoriam, The Last Supper” Andrew White 2012 Church of the Immaculate Conception Farm Street, Mayfair London
Jesus demonstrated the ultimate proof of God’s love for us by giving himself, Body and Blood, to us at the Last Supper and at every re-enactment of it ever since. In 2011, Andrew painted his own life size version of The Last Supper, now on display at Farm Street Church, in London. This was the beginning of a new branch of spiritual creativity for the artist; the pursuit of capturing eternal truths in paint, through a figurative metaphor. The completion of The Last Supper in 2012 also signaled a move away from commercial galleries towards art in public spaces. In 2018 Andrew became artist in residence at Farm Street Church. To note:
The face above Jesus: is it the Holy Spirit or the Father?
Judas turning away from his friends and Jesus. He was about to betray him;
The characters are all present day male models;
Only one has his eyes open, who is it, Peter?
The bread reflected in the basin used for the washing of the feet with the towel ready;
No one has a plate; there is only one goblet: they will share wine/blood of Christ from the one cup;
The Eucharist being the source of light (except for Judas).
Lectio John 13:31-35 31“When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified; 32 if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going you cannot come'. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”.
The initial “he” referred to in this text is Judas. The other Disciples probably thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the feast"; or, that “he should give something to the poor”.
So, after receiving the morsel of the bread, which Jesus said He was giving to the one who was about to betray him, Judas immediately left into the night. The Gospel then continues with Jesus addressing the remaining Apostles.
Why this Gospel now, the Fifth Sunday of Easter? It is part of the narrative of the Last Supper which is central to Maundy Thursday. Since then, we have had the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Appearance of Jesus to the women and the Apostles. We read about doubting Thomas, in the upper room, and by about Jesus showing himself again at the Sea of Tiberias.
Last week’s Gospel jumped back to before the Passion as does this week. The Fourth Sunday tells us when Jesus says He is the Son of God. A claim which angered the Jews. This week He refers to himself as the Son of Man. In both occasions Jesus says that He and the Father are one.
The Message This Gospel is short but is important as it confirms why Jesus was born, his fulfilment of the Prophets and his mission to glorify God and to deliver the message of God in a single commandment to LOVE! How does God reveal his glory to us? During his Last Supper with the Disciples, on the eve of his sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus speaks of his glory and the glory of his Father. What is this glory? It is the Cross which Jesus speaks of here. The Cross of Jesus reveals the tremendous love and mercy of God the Father and his beloved Son for the human race. John the Evangelist writes, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life".
The true nature of love There is no greater glory and honour that one can offer than the willing sacrifice of one's life for the sake of another. This is the true nature of love - the total self-giving and free offering of one's life for the good of another. A mother who loves her child will do everything in her power to nurture, protect, and save the life of the child. God the Father showed the unfathomable depth of his love and mercy by willingly offering his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. To ransom a slave God gave his only Son. That slave is you and me and the whole human race which is bound in sin and death and separation from God.
The cancer of sin is healed by Christ's merciful love. Paul the Apostle tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. The Lord Jesus died for our sins to bring us abundant new life in his Spirit and to restore our nature in the true image and likeness of God. The cancer of sin shows us the ugliness of greed, hatred, and envy which destroy the very core of our being and rob us of life and love. That is why evil infects the world which God created out of his boundless love and goodness.
God did not create evil and suffering, but through suffering He conquers evil with goodness, truth, and mercy and righteousness. That is why Jesus gave his Disciples a New Commandment and way of love -not a Commandment that replaces the Old Covenant Commandment to love one's neighbour as oneself. This New Commandment transforms the Old one with the love and mercy which the Lord Jesus poured out for us on the Cross of Calvary. There, death was defeated, and sin was covered with merciful love and forgiveness, and Satan's power was crushed through Godly meekness and obedience. Jesus proved that love is stronger than death. That is how we overcome the world and conquer our enemies -Satan, who is the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning, the world which stands in opposition to God, and our own sinful pride and fear of death.
The love of Christ conquers all The Father has glorified his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, by raising him from the dead. And the Lord shares his glory with us and with all who believe in him as their Lord and Saviour. Augustine of Hippo wrote: “God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love”. God's love is direct, personal, and wholly oriented to our good welfare and happiness. What can hold us back from loving the One who suffered and died for us and who offers us abundant joy and happiness with him forever? Nothing can separate us from that love, except our own stubborn pride, envy, and self-deception. Satan rebelled out of pride and envy - he wanted to be God's rival. Adam disobeyed because he listened to Satan's lie and deceptive promise to glory apart from God. We sin because we love ourselves more than we love God and our neighbour.
Only the Cross can break the curse of sin and bring full restoration of body, mind, and soul. We are called to love as Christ loves us. We were made for glory -the glory which comes from God and which lasts forever. That glory can only be obtained in the Cross of Jesus Christ. And the price for that glory is the total offering of our lives for the One who loved us first and who died on the Cross to save us from everlasting death and destruction.
God offers us the free gift of faith which enables us to believe in his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who frees us from slavery to sin so we can live as sons and daughters of God. The distinctive mark of the followers of Jesus is love -a love not bound by fear, greed, or selfishness-, but a love full of compassion, mercy, kindness, and goodness.
God's love has been poured into our hearts How can we love one another as Christ has loved us? Paul the Apostle tells us that “God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us”. Jesus poured out his Holy Spirit on his Disciples at Pentecost and He pours out his Spirit today on all who believe in him.
If we yield our hearts to Jesus and submit to his will for us, then the Holy Spirit will purify all that is unloving, unkind, and unforgiving in us. The Lord wants to transform our minds so we can understand his word of truth and life which has power to set us free from ignorance, unbelief, deception, and prejudice. This is the power that overcomes the world -the Triumphant Cross of Christ which breaks the destructive forces of sin, hatred, and division. And we share in the power of Christ's victory by embracing the Cross which the Lord Jesus sets before each one of us.
What is the Cross that I must take up daily to follow the Lord Jesus? When my will crosses with God's will, then God’s will must be done. The Cross of Christ sets us free to live no longer for ourselves but for Christ and his kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness (moral goodness).
Our calling and privilege is to serve as Christ has served and to love as He has loved. That is the way we share in the glory of our heavenly Father who gave us his beloved Son, who laid down his life for each one of us.
The distinctive mark of every disciple and follower of Jesus Christ is love -a love that is ready to forgive and forget past injuries, to heal and restore rather than inflict revenge and injury. The Cross of Jesus is the only way to pardon, peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Every other way will fail or fall short of the glory and victory which Jesus Christ has won for us through his death and resurrection.
If we embrace his love and truth and allow his Holy Spirit to purify and transform our hearts and minds, then we will find the inner freedom, joy, and strength we need to love without measure, to forgive without limit, and to serve without reward -save that of knowing we are serving the One who wants to be united with us in an unbreakable bond of peace and joy forever.
"Lord Jesus, your love knows no bounds and surpasses everything I could desire and long for. Fill me with the fire of your love and with the joy of your Holy Spirit that I may freely serve my neighbour with loving-kindness, tender hearted mercy, and generous care for their well-being."
ORATIO “This is my body, broken for you, bringing you wholeness, making you free. Take it and eat it, and when you do, do it in love for me. This is my blood poured out for you, bringing forgiveness, making you free. Take it and drink it, and when you do, do it in love for me. Back to my Father soon shall I go. Do not forget me; then you will see I am still with you, and you will know you're very close to me. Filled with my Spirit, how you will grow! You are my branches; I am the tree. If you are faithful, others will know you are alive in me. Love one another – I have loved you, and I have shown you how to be free; serve one another, and when you do, do it in love for me.
“Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you. And see, you were within and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all. You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.”
Augustine of Hippo
What do I think of during the consecration? The sacrifice of Jesus, the graces I am about to receive, the mystery of the Eucharist … nothing sacred, worldly thoughts creep in?
How much would I miss the Eucharist if I couldn’t take part? How much does it mean to me? Do I pray for those living under Catholic intolerance and those who can only receive the Eucharist a few times a year.
What does the new commandment ‘love one another’ mean to me?
Do I really show how much Jesus loves me as proof to others we are His Disciples.
Do I fully understand and appreciate the simplicity, complexity and significance of God being glorified in the Son of Man?
Again, Jesus talks to his Disciples as ‘My little children’. He reminds us to come to Him as children. What does this mean to me? With unconditional love, with simplicity, with complete attention, with openness, without regrets without preconceived notions? How do I approach Jesus?