Wednesday of Passion Week


Qeryana I (Old Testament Reading I): Gen 40: 1-23
Qeryana II (Old Testament Reading II):

Josh 23: 1-16

Engarta (Epistle Reading):

Heb 9: 11-28

Evangalion (Gospel):

John 13: 1-17

 

According to Gen 39, while Joseph was in prison because he refused to do a ‘great wickedness and sin against God’ as demanded by the wife of Potiphar who was fascinated by his handsome appearance; she accused him of molestation and he was thrown into the prison. Meanwhile   two officers of the Pharaoh, his cupbearer and chief baker also were brought to it (Gen 40:1-23). Each officer had a dream which perplexed and saddened them and Joseph was asked to help with an explanation. The cupbearer narrated to Joseph that in his dream he saw a vine tree with three branches which budded, blossomed and the clusters ripened to grapes. And the officer pressed the grapes into pharaoh’s cup and offered it to him. Joseph interpreted the dream; three branches were three days within which pharaoh would restore him to his former office. Joseph made a request to him to tell about it to his master so that he may be freed.  But he did no oblige.

 

The chief baker who heard the above story also narrated his dream to Joseph. There were three cake baskets which that he carried on his head and the top most one contained all kinds of delicacies for the pharaoh,  which were eaten up by birds as he carried them on his head. Joseph said, the three baskets were three days within which pharaoh would remove the baker’s head and the birds would eat is body. And it happened that the third day was the birthday of the Pharaoh and during the celebration the case of the cupbearer and of the baker were brought up. The cupbearer was honoured and restored to his former office while the baker was hanged. Still the cupbearer did not remember Joseph.

 

The cupbearer, who got a consoling explanation to his dream, though he was asked by Joseph to narrate the event to Pharaoh, did not do it out of forgetfulness or negligence. People are quick to receive help from others, but slow to be thankful. All the good that we do in life may not be recognized or remembered by others. But we know that doing good without expecting any reward is real charity; let not our being good be dependent on the goodness/wickedness of others. Being thankful is an expression of one’s nobility that would bring more help from others. And we are to do good to others without selfish calculations.

 

Joshua 23:1-16: It was a time of peace for Israel and they were well settled in the Promised Land after many battles to conquer and posses the land that the Lord had promised them. The other nations were cleared from the land, though some remained, so that the Israelites may not go after the gods of the other nations; however, there was not any hatred for foreigners. And therefore Joshua reminded the people, “Therefore be very steadfast to observe and do all that is written in the book of the law (instruction) of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right or left, so that you may be mixed with these nations among you, or make mention of the names of their gods, or swear by them, or serve them, or bow yourselves down to them” (v.6-7). One may substitute God with money, pleasure, fame or money; for some these are more powerful and useful than God. The Lord Yahweh demands exclusive loyalty; there is only one God and God has no equal or rival. In India we live among people who belong to different religions and no hatred of other religions or people is acceptable. All worship the same and only God in their own ways with differing symbols and languages, which are imperfect. But that does not mean that we should not proclaim Jesus and his Gospel, which we owe to others as they have right to hear it, but we do not impose it on anyone. Most people did not choose their religion or the way of worshiping God just as they did not choose their parents or nationality, language etc. We humans are ‘slaves of history’ and fight in the name of God, race, language and other circumstances.

 

The letter to the Hebrews 9:11-28 tells us about the perfect sacrifice of Jesus’ self to the Father which is unique and unrepeatable. He did not offer the blood of animals as in the Old Testament but “through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God” (v.14) for our eternal salvation. He is the mediator of the new covenant through his death that has brought us salvation. “He has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself… So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (vv.26-28). On our altars the ‘once and for all’ sacrifice of the Lord is not repeated but made present or ‘re-presented’ through symbols sacramentally. This is the meaning of biblical ‘commemoration’ (Deut 5:2-5).

 

The letter reminds us that “Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (v.28). In the actual celebration of the Eucharist we, the celebrant and the community, turn to the East waiting for this eschatological second coming (parousia) of Jesus.

 

Jn 13:1-17 tells us about Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples on the eve of the feast of Passover. In the beginning itself we are told that Jesus knew that he was going to the Father as his hour had come. We are also told about the betrayal of Jesus by Judas who was one among the twelve and about whom there is the regrettable remark, “He who ate my bread has lifted his heal against me’ (v.18 . Ps 41:9). These words show that the foot washing is a prophetic action symbolizing the humiliating death of Jesus. To Peter who did not want to be washed Jesus said, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me” (v.8), implying that sharing in his death was necessary for the salvation of all. We are also told Jesus “loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” But Jesus raises Peter who understood the washing in a physical sense, to a higher symbolic and spiritual sense of death. There was nobody who was not ‘his own’ and he loved all forever.

 

With the foot washing which was a servile task, Jesus also taught the lesson of doing humble service to others. Jesus, with his life and word teaches that any humble service done to other persons is of great value (Lk 22:27). One is to love others even to the point of dying for them (Jn 15:12-13). His followers too were to do it (1 Tim 5:10). A physical imitation of Jesus once a while without its spirit made visible in any area of life would only be a mockery. What motivated Judas or motivates anyone anywhere in life, weather for the sake of wealth, name or fame is a crucial question.

 

Father George Kaniarakath, CMI

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