May 30, 2018
We see the making of well-intended promises in the Last Supper in Mark’s gospel. Earlier in Mark (chapter 10), James and John have boldly asked Jesus for seats at His right and left when He comes into His glory. Lest we think that these two disciples are the exception to the rule, Mark reports that all the other disciples were “indignant” when they found out what James and John had done. They wanted these seats for themselves! This bold request, and the subsequent indignation of the disciples, followed upon Jesus’ third Passion prediction, wherein He talks of his imminent suffering and death. Interestingly, Jesus asks the disciples if they can be baptized with the baptism in which He will be baptized, and if they can drink from the cup from which He must drink. Not recognizing the implications, the disciples are adamant that they are up to the task.
And now at the Last Supper, in an atmosphere of hostility in Jerusalem, Jesus takes bread and breaks it and takes a cup and shares it. These are prophetic gestures that anticipate the breaking of His body and the pouring out of His blood. And the disciples participate whole-heartedly, sharing in this meal—“and they all drank from it”—and promising that their faith in Jesus will never be shaken. But, a few verses later, when Jesus is arrested, Mark bleakly reports: “And they all left Him and fled” (Mk 14:50).
Promises made and promises broken. Only after the Resurrection, through forgiveness and reconciliation, will the disciples be offered new possibilities that arise out of their broken promises. So, too, with us, for we are constantly offered new possibilities that emerge from our broken promises. We need only accept the forgiveness offered to us by the Risen Lord.