While looking through some of our collection materials with Easter fast approaching, I couldn’t help stopping a moment when I came across this particular tale written by a Maryknoll lay missioner in João Pessoa, Brazil during Holy week in 2003. In her own words:
“Our Holy week here was powerful. We invited neighbors, some of our Maryknoll community, and a few friends to remember the last night of Jesus’s life on Holy Thursday, including a foot washing in our home. […] Following that we revived a childhood tradition from family of having a simple dinner of only homemade bread and wine and grape juice.”
“We [went to…] the men’s prison on Good Friday, but because of a recent rebellion we weren’t allowed to go in the pavilion. […O]ne guard said, ‘You can’t go in; we can’t guarantee your safety’ (due to the unrest from the rebellion). I asked to talk to the director. He let us in. I told these big burly, gun-toting guards that I was not afraid. It seemed like someone else was talking for me as I spoke to them with conviction. As we walked out to the pavilion, I was trembling but steady — thanks to [my husband] and a compassionate Director. In the end, it was the guards whom I was most afraid of!
At the barred entrance to the pavilion we visited the men who were so glad to see us. It had been a rough week. They wanted us to read the story of the Last Supper and the passion. We had also brought a loaf of whole-wheat bread, a last minute inspiration, and then we broke the whole wheat sliced bread, passed the small pieces through the bars and were amazed as many of the men lined up to receive it. In their brokenness we tasted and felt Christ’s passion. It was more powerful than any Good Friday liturgy has ever been for us.”
May her experience in Brazil provide you an interesting perspective on this Holy Thursday, as we commemorate The Last Supper of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the sacrament of Holy Communion.
Easter Blessings to you all!