I wrote yesterday that some “happy, beautiful” things happened to me. Well, here is the “happy” thing and what it showed me:
As humans, there are two realms put before us at each present moment: One of great beauty and life; one of ugliness and death. And so on Wednesday of this week and Thursday we are reminded that these two realms are set before us.
Adherence to Rituals and Rules
I came to my friend’s house yesterday, and this is what greeted me —
It was time for our somewhat regular recorder practice on Wednesday. The “ritual” is that we seat ourselves in front of our music stands, allow a little light conversation while we play our first pieces, and then we get down to some serious musicianship. Then we begin to feel that our session is over, and we proceed to tea.
Always an absolute delight at my friend’s house; beautiful, seasonal, whimsical. A thoughtful table for tea.
My friend served mille-feuilles in honor of a book we’ve both enjoyed.
(Also known as napoleons.) There was a Reality at work here in our friendship and in our music, a beautiful Reality that flows out of one realm and into the other.
We did not mention that yesterday was Spy Wednesday – but it was:
This Wednesday is called “Spy Wednesday” because on this day the Jewish leaders met with riff-raff. They who were the righteous arbiters of Ritual and the Law, had to deal with this common man, Judas Iscariot, who was willing to betray his own Friend with secret reports of His whereabouts. With great distaste, these religious rulers finalized their plans and sealed the deal with the 30 pieces of silver that was foretold so many centuries ago. But one does what one must to achieve a higher goal.
The religious rulers as well as the Romans lived in the one, material realm.
Statues, unquestioned authority, riches, gold and silver, impressive robes and long fringes; in this material realm the use of power of this material world could establish a kind of peace, ruling over all the rest. This is a kingdom not founded in love and friendship, faith and true piety, but on Rules and Rituals to keep people in their proper places.
It is a kingdom, a realm, that is ugly and leads to death.
So the culmination of all this spying and plotting came on a Wednesday, but it is for Thursday to carry it out
Material Reality and Spiritual Reality
Material Reality alone fails. There is a Spiritual Reality which gives beauty and life to our Material Reality, but we can’t”measure the spirit by material means.
Can we measure the material worth of Friendship? of Honor? of Courage? of Love? What is the price, in material goods, of your love for each of family members?
How many miles long is your Truth? What color is the Respect that people have for you? How many pounds does your Faith in God weigh?
But these things exist.
And yet, some things can be seen and weighed and measured and physically compared. We can’t lose sight of the material world that we live in, nor of the spiritual world which give Life to it.
Just as our tea table yesterday contained a tea pot, cups, saucers, hot cross buns and milles-feuilles, and you could have recorded the sound of a lovely music CD, our voices, the telephone ringing, chairs squeaking, footsteps . . . you could not have measured the intangible things of the actual Spiritual Realm (mutual love, friendship, respect, faith) which accompanied us and penetrated all our material “noises.”
Both existed. The material realm and the spiritual realm met and co-existed.
This is not “above” human beings to understand.
Jesus met with His friends at His Last Supper with them, It was a supper determined by Rituals with prophetic meaning. It was a time for the last bit of teaching, last time to show the means of Loving which is self-sacrifice and servitude, last bit of instructive and loving prayers, and one thing more:
With God’s creative and sovereign will, here was the first Transformation of the material aspects of that Supper into an eternal, spiritual union with the Creator – present from now on, any time, any place that this “ritual supper” is recreated.
From the earliest beginnings of Christianity, this Last Supper was not meant to be merely copied by our actions, nor imitated. The Last Supper, within these last 24 hours of Jesus’ life on Earth, was meant to be entered into spiritually, really, actually — and perpetually, until He comes. Matter and Spirit.
These last 24 hours are completed at Calvary.
The Last Supper which then becomes the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.