Lent 2017 - At the Table

Two dinners take place in this passage, both of which prepare the way to the cross. These table-stories embody the love between God and man in generous acts and physical elements—ointment, bread, wine. First a woman pours out a costly jar of ointment for Jesus. Then Jesus shares bread and wine as symbols of his body and blood, sacrificed for all. In an exercise contemplating love, Ignatius reminds us “love is manifest in deeds rather than words,” and that “love consists in a mutual sharing of goods.” In other words, love is active and generous. Love gives whatever it has. It does not keep to itself; it pours itself out for the sake of the one loved.

  1. Read Mark 14:1–25.
  2. Ask God to know and be grateful for all the loving blessings you receive in Christ.
  3. These stories are especially fruitful for Ignatius’ use of the senses and imagination. Sit at the table to witness the woman’s “wasteful” act of love. Smell the fragrant ointment. Hear the disciples’ protests. Then enter the upper room. Let the space take shape in your mind: the room, the table they sit at, the dishes they use. Hold the bread; chew and taste it. Take the cup; sip from it and swallow. Listen to Jesus’ words, and watch the disciples anxiously glance at one another. Imagine their actions and conversations.
  4. Reflect on how God communicates his love in creation—giving life, providing food, etc. Reflect on all Jesus is preparing to suffer and do—on the real tangibility of his love. He gives his own flesh and blood, which we remember in the physical act of eating and drinking. Lastly, think about Jesus’ faithfulness and forgiveness to those who are about to abandon him.
  5. Sit at the table with Jesus after eating. Thank him for all his gifts of love. Pray this prayer from Ignatius:
  6. “Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will—all that I have and possess. You have given all to me; to you I return it. All is yours; do with it whatever you will. Give me your love and your grace. That is enough for me.”

About the Author
Nick Chambers is the Associate Minister at Peachtree Christian Church in Atlanta, GA and the former Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC.