Preparing a place for Jesus

By Vinal Van Benthem | For The Compass | May 31, 2018

“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 recently traveled to Green Bay to present a program on the “Spirituality of Work.” Did the people at the spirituality center who furnished and prepared our meeting room know that they were preparing a place for Jesus? “And they prepared the Passover.” Did the members of the kitchen staff realize that they were preparing refreshments 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 these words I’m sitting at home in my “corner office” (aka spare bedroom). Earlier this afternoon I attended a concert at a parish where I used to work and I talked with former co-workers. Some shared stories of children and grandchildren, some shared joys, some shared concerns. I was tempted to check my watch (it was getting close to time for the concert), but something prompted me to stay and listen. And I’m glad I did, because these people were Jesus for me this afternoon, taking the time to share their lives over coffee. “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 in the diocese.

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