By Friar Thomas Fetz, OFM Conv.
If you had to order a last meal, what would it be?
We present this question to condemned criminals before their execution, though in less morbid contexts it makes a fun little thought experiment. What would I eat if I knew it was the last thing I would ever taste? Tacos? Steak? My mother's best dish?
On Holy Thursday, Jesus has the same decision. Later that night, he would be seized and led to his eventual execution. There's a lot to notice about Jesus' last meal. Here's a couple observations:
1. His last meal isn't actually about himself. He doesn't ask to be served his last meal, he serves it! Everything from the foot washing to his gift of his very body and blood culminating in the cross is for others. The question of our last meal usually is all about ourselves: what would YOU like to eat? In contrast, Jesus' last meal shows his selfless love for others.
2. Jesus became his own last meal. We don't remember his last supper because he chose the highest quality bread and wine to eat, we remember it because he became the gift of finest wheat, the wine poured out that we might live.
Once you are dead and you stand before God, what you ate won't matter to you; as your life flashes before your eyes. You won't dwell on the details of the flavors and textures you consumed. You will realize that the only things that matter are your relationship with God and with His people. You will ask yourself: during your life, did you spend time with God? Did you love the people He gave you, both friend and enemy?
Jesus' last meal became his greatest expression of love for each of us: our example and strength. Through the Eucharist he gave us, He strengthens us in our relationship with the Father and sends us forward to love, forgive, and serve.
If our response to the question of our last meal is about the foods whose taste we enjoy, if it is about ourselves, then it shows that we have room to grow in selfless love of God and neighbor. What matters more than the food is the people we share it with and the God whose love it represents.
So, what do you want for your last meal? Perhaps an opportunity to serve others? Perhaps what you really want is the greatest meal of all, the Eucharist.