. . . Jesus said, “Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at your house with my disciples.’” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the passover.
When it was evening, Jesus sat at table with the twelve disciples. . . . (St. Matthew 26:18-20) (excerpt from the Gospel reading for Vesperal Divine Liturgy on Holy Thursday)
As Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is within you” (or “in your midst.”) (St. Luke 17:21) The Lord directed the continuation of this Most Blessed Meal by saying “Do this in remembrance of Me.” We feed upon His Body and Blood when, with proper and reverent preparation, we partake of the Holy Eucharist. It is the Mystery of mysteries, the culmination of all the others- He in us and we in Him!
This central act of offering, thanksgiving, and worship is alluded to throughout the Holy Scriptures, especially in the account of the feeding of the 5000 in the Gospel of St. John. And the Lord’s Supper as well as the Eucharist relate to how we live our daily lives- eating together being the most obvious. The Lord gave this command in regard to our feasts:
“But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (St. Luke 14:13-14)
St. John Chrysostom’s first sermon on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians sets forth a choice; would you rather take part in a rich banquet on fine dinnerware with dignitaries, or share a simple meal with poor, the blind, the lame, and the maimed? Access the sermon here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf113.iv.iv.i.html (pp. 260-263) St. John Chrysostom, as you might imagine, chooses the latter option, and argues for it.
And also to be remembered is that following the Supper, our Lord Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Jean Vanier (L’Arche) gave a good word 10 years ago on the implications of this wondrous act of humble service in relation to our interactions with poor people and those with disabilities (whom Mr. Vanier has devoted his life to serving): http://www.wfn.org/1998/08/msg00112.html
reprint from April 2007 with revisions