Preparing a place for Jesus

By Vinal Van Benthem | June 3, 2015

“Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water.” That’s all. We’re told nothing more about this man. Apparently, his work is finished. “Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.” Furnished and readied by whom? Again we are told nothing more. “… and they prepared the Passover.” What did they do? What kind of work went into preparing the Passover? Small details, perhaps, but apparently necessary to the fulfillment of the covenant. Or why else would Mark have included them?

“A man … carrying a jar of water.” Hey, Culligan man — did you ever think of yourself as being like that man who led the way for Jesus’ disciples? “… a large upper room furnished and ready.” I’m currently preparing to travel to the Chicago area to participate in a conference for healthcare workers. Do the people who will furnish and prepare our meeting rooms know that they are preparing a place for Jesus? “And they prepared the Passover.” Do the members of the kitchen staff at the hospital realize that they are preparing meals for Jesus and his disciples?

“While they were eating, he took bread … then he took a cup … and they all drank.” Who baked the bread? Who made the wine? Who went shopping for the food they shared that evening? Who prepared it? Did they have any idea for whom they were preparing the meal? Or were they just doing their jobs?

As I write, I’m sitting at home in my “corner office” (aka spare bedroom). Earlier this afternoon a friend called to chat and share her story, which included several cancer surgeries and an auto accident involving a freight train when she was a girl. I was tempted to ignore her (after all, I have a column to write — I’m working here!), but something prompted me to pick up the phone. And I’m glad I did because Ruth was Jesus for me this afternoon, taking the time to share her life with me via long distance phone. “One bread … one body.” And I thought I was just doing my job …

Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.

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