January 18, 2021

Maundy Thursday 2017: Feeding on Death We Live

Photo by aidisley

Maundy Thursday 2017

For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.

• 1 Corinthians 5:7

• • •

“To know Christ sacramentally only in terms of bread and wine is to know him only partially, in the dining room as host and guest. It is a valid enough knowledge, but its ultimate weakness when isolated is that it is perhaps too civil. . . . However elegant the knowledge of the dining room may be, it begins in the soil, in the barnyard, in the slaughterhouse; amid the quiet violence of the garden, strangled cries, and fat spitting in the pan. Table manners depend on something’s having been grabbed by the throat. A knowledge that ignores these dark and murderous human gestes is losing its grip on the human condition.”

• Aidan Kavanagh, The Shape of Baptism

• • •

Photo by aidisley at Flickr. Creative Commons License


  1. This plate of food, ?so fragrant and appetizing, ?also contains much suffering. Thich Nhat Hanh

    • Burro [Mule] says

      For the Hog Killing
      Wendell Berry

      Let them stand still for the bullet, and stare the
      shooter in the eye,
      let them die while the sound of the shot is in the
      air, let them die as they fall,
      let the jugular blood spring hot to the knife, let
      its freshet be full,
      let this day begin again the change of hogs into
      people, not the other way around,
      for today we celebrate again our lives’ wedding
      with the world,
      for by our hunger, by this provisioning, we renew
      the bond.

  2. …forgive my obtuseness, but what does a somewhat veiled apologetic for veganism have to do with Maundy Thursday?

  3. Susan Dumbrell says

    ‘Oh sacred head sore wounded.’

    Cry this night for the refugees and the displaced.
    Where will they find shelter and pray to their God in peace and seeking his protection.
    We in the western world are so intent on our warmth, food, clothing and safety.
    Life and death are but a blink of an eye apart.
    It doesn’t matter how many learned books we read or bible discussion groups we attend, they the displaced still die and we turn a blind eye.

    “Not my problem”.

    Pilate washed his hands, “not my problem” he said and our Lord was led away, humiliated, whipped, crucified.

    What is the difference with the displaced multitudes wandering the world tonight.looking for a place to lay their heads. Mothers with dry breasts, no milk to feed their babies. Children dying from hunger.
    Old folk hobbling away from terror on sticks.
    Families torn apart.

    We give up meat on Good Friday. What a laugh. Some have nothing at all to eat tomorrow. Our tummies will still be fed.

    Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt with baby Jesus. They were refugees.

    What is the difference?

    We may all turn up to our places of worship this weekend feeling very secure in our existence.

    Watch out!

    Our peace could be shattered by the demigods who think they rule the world this week and threaten nuclear bombs.

    You and I could end up refugees in a blink of an eye.

    Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

  4. Christiane says

    When I was growing up, we never ate lamb, because my mother hadn’t because her mother wouldn’t ….. associating ‘lamb’ with Our Lord.

    When I think of ‘lamb’, of course comes to mind ‘Behold the Lamb of God’;
    but also comes to mind the story told by Nathan to help David understand what he had done that was evil:
    “3”But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb Which he bought and nourished; And it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, And was like a daughter to him. 4″Now a traveler came to the rich man, And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, To prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; Rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

    A long time ago, I had heard that for a time, lambs were taken into families so that the children could bond with them before they were slaughtered …….. as a lesson in what it meant to lose something beloved as a sacrifice
    ……. I always hoped it wasn’t true, because the children’s hearts would have been broken and I always thought: that must have been the REAL sacrifice, the broken hearts

    • And then there’s the Silence of the Lambs.

      Not sure I’ll be able to eat lamb again.

    • Christiane, this happened in the mid-1940s to my wife and her brother when she was a child of Orthodox parents in Philadelphia. Her dad brought home a lamb as a pet a few weeks before Easter. It was taken to the local butcher and slaughtered for Easter dinner. Only her father was able to remain at the table through the meal as both children and the mothere left the room in tears.

  5. Christiane says

    “Only in silence the word,
    Only in dark the light,
    Only in dying life:
    Bright the hawk’s flight
    On the empty sky.”
    (Ursula Le Guin)

  6. Randy Thompson says

    Thank you for the Aidan Kavanagh quote.
    He was one of my professors at Yale Divinity School, and his course on ritual dramatically changed the way I view life. He could be remakably eloquent and folksy, and often at the same time.
    He wrote one of the most vivid desciptions of the act of baptism in the early church that I’ve ever read. (Unfortunately, I have no idea of whee to find it now.)

  7. It is very curious that there is violence at the very heart of what we do and who we are. The cross. The innocent lamb. The blood. It is curious only because none of us except the masochists would choose to design a universe that included such pain and anguish and yet our God seemingly did. That leads of course to the age old question of, “Why is there suffering?”

    • Burro [Mule] says

      Tolkien’s theodicy:

      “Mightier than Este is Nienna, sister of the Feanturi; she dwells alone. She is acquainted with grief, and mourns for every wound that Arda has suffered in the marring of Melkor. So great was her sorrow, as the Music unfolded, that her song turned to lamentation long before its end, and the sound of mourning was woven into the themes of the World before it began.

      But she does not weep for herself; and those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope. She brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow to wisdom.”

      Remember, He never exempted Himself from suffering

      • “Remember, He never exempted Himself from suffering”
        Which makes it curiouser and curiouser, does it not?

        • I ask with all sincerity, what is he suffering over? I think our suffering is simply part and parcel of His but I don’t know why he is or we are suffering. This isn’t anything new but the gruesomeness of the lamb’s slaughter reminded me. The genesis of God’s suffering is bigger and older than humans in my estimation so we can only wade through with a dim picture.

  8. >> A knowledge that ignores these dark and murderous human gestes is losing its grip on the human condition.

    >> Recognize that to live, we feed on death.

    I would imagine that dealing with suffering and death as a living demands a lot of a person. Some traditions seem to encourage pain and suffering, especially at this season, and some people seem drawn to this. I expect there is much about life that I do not understand yet. Looking back, I chart a steadily rising line out of unhappiness, brokenness, dysfunction, and pain. As my body now weakens and wears out, I find my spirit growing stronger and more able to deal with the ups and downs with a peaceful heart. I figure chances are I’ve got fourteen years left to improve, to grow, perhaps to make a difference for good. Yes, I could leave the planet before finishing this sentence, that’s a given, but I didn’t. I sincerely hope that I get to leave quickly and easily when my time comes, but I also hope that I can meet whatever comes along with a thankful heart and peace of mind. I don’t want to go back one minute, but I’ll be glad when this is done.

    Here’s some thoughts from a daily word I received today: “Simply welcome Life whatever it happens to look like. . . . Try this: Bet on your Life. . . . Life is going to take you somewhere. You are going to get out of Life alive. You are going to graduate. . . . Life is not here to get you down. . . . No matter what, you cannot elude Life. Life doesn’t give up. Life doesn’t let up, nor must you. . . . What can you do with Life but live it? . . . Listen, whatever Life may look like to you, Life is your friend. It is your friend for all time. . . . Life mandates Life. Long live Life.”

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