My grandmother told me stories about my mom’s dad, how he
arrived early on dates so he could read her parents’ encyclopedias,
how he would wake up on Saturday mornings and want to go
anywhere, and how he loved all his grandchildren even if he only
lived long enough to hold one of us. And so I believe what Jesus tells
the disciples, as mysterious as it sounds, about knowing the Father
because they have known him.
I also have questions about these things Jesus says. Most of them
distract me from this conversation at the table and the people sitting
around it. But when I remember that this passage concerns things
greater than ideas about the nature of God and eternal life, my heart
breaks. Thomas and Phillip are trying to put together where Jesus is
going and why Jesus would want to leave the world and them with it.
And Jesus, I can imagine, must feel so far away from this family he
chose, from the people who should know him best.
I have rarely believed my grandmother when she said that our
grandfather watched over us from heaven and that he smiled. But I
believe her with my whole heart when she said that heaven wouldn’t
be like this, and that all she wanted was a studio apartment where
she could be young again with her husband.
What Jesus said at this table, we have endeavored to remember through wine and bread. But there is also a feast to be had with the way those words felt to the ones who sat there with him and to all those who came after.
Around our tables are both empty and newly filled seats. How can you make known the love of those who have gone on?
God, let the meals we make from inherited memories and the experiences of our own lives sustain those we cannot yet see. Amen.