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Communion Meditations (2022)


The Last Supper

Originally scheduled for December 18

In Italy, in the city of Milan, at a convent named Santa Maria Delle Grazie, on one wall of the dining room there stands Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. The convent was undergoing some renovation, and the Duke of Sforza, Leonardo’s patron, commissioned him to do the painting. Because the art materials originally used were not suitable for long-lasting paintings, this work of art has undergone several renovations. What you see below is taken from a copy of the work made by da Vinci’s studio.

Da Vinci The Last Supper

(click to enlarge)
What many people do not realize is that da Vinci’s painting shows a particular moment at the Last Supper, the moment when Jesus reveals that one of his disciples will betray him.
The commentary on this work of art occupies many volumes. We can but pick out a few highlights that are of interest here.
·        Note that the disciples are grouped in groups of three. Indeed the motif of three things goes throughout the painting, perhaps referring to the Trinity. Each group is reacting to Christ’s announcement in its own characteristic way.
·        The group closest to Jesus on his right hand side may surprise you. Da Vinci recorded which disciple was which in his notebooks, and we find that the third group of three to his right is comprised of Peter, John — and Judas Iscariot!
·        Perhaps the most important part we might observe is that all the perspective lines in the painting converge at a single point. That point is the head of Christ. Christ is quite literally the center of the painting.
We may learn something from these three points with regard to communion.
·        As the disciples reacted to the news each in their own way, so it is that each of us will have a different reaction to communion. Certain thoughts are commanded (for example, self-examination) but for the most part we should have the honesty of having the real us meeting the real Christ. That is sufficient to remind us of our sins; and also sufficient to remind us of his grace.
·        The inclusion of Judas with John and Peter, so close to Christ, is a lesson for those of us who would look around at communion and judge others is not fit. Christ will judge those; you should judge and examine yourself.
·        The center part of communion, like the center point of the painting, is Christ. As you partake, remember that the bread represents his body, suffering for you. The cup represents his blood, shed so that you might have the grace of God. See what he has done for you; examine yourself and commune with Him. Then partake in an honest and heartfelt way. Make Christ the center point of your thoughts.

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