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139. Shadows Fall (Mark 14:12-25)

June 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, Meditations, The Better Part

“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.” - Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Mark 14:12-25: On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, and say to the owner of the house which he enters, The Master says: Where is my dining room in which I can eat the passover with my disciples? He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there,’ The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover. When evening came he arrived with the Twelve. And while they were at table eating, Jesus said, ‘I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me, one of you eating with me.’ They were distressed and asked him, one after another, ‘Not I, surely?’ He said to them, ‘It is one of the Twelve, one who is dipping into the same dish with me. Yes, the Son of Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!’ And as they were eating he took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. ‘Take it,’ he said ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, and he said to them, ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. I tell you solemnly, I shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.’

Christ the Lord  The Jewish feast of the Passover commemorated and renewed the foundational experience of God’s Chosen People: the liberation from slavery in Egypt. The first Passover occurred in the aftermath of Pharaoh’s repeated refusals to let the Israelites free to worship the one, true God. Nine horrible and miraculous plagues wouldn’t budge the stubborn Egyptian leader, so finally God sent his angel of death to slay every Egyptian firstborn male. On that very night, every Israelite family was told to sacrifice a spotless lamb, mark the doorjambs of their dwellings with its blood, and feast upon it. The blood of the lamb signaled the presence of God’s favor, and so the angel of death knew to “pass over” those families in the course of its mission.

When Moses had successfully led his people out of Egypt, God gave the Israelites detailed instructions for the annual commemoration of this event. Such a commemoration, the Passover Seder (or “supper,” still celebrated by Jews) was the occasion for Christ’s institution of the sacrament of the Eucharist. St. Mark records the words of Jesus by which he reveals that he is the true Passover lamb. Just as the Israelites in Egypt were saved from slavery by the lamb’s sacrifice, so all men and women would be saved from sin by the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, by the breaking of his body and the pouring out of his blood out of love for us. And just as the Israelites were to partake of the feast of the lamb, so all of Christ’s followers are called to feast on his living body and blood through the Eucharist in order to share intimately in his divine life. The Eucharist manifests Christ’s Lordship over life and history – it extends his once-for-all sacrifice through all time and space – and shows what kind of Lord he is: one who gives his life for those entrusted to his care, even for his betrayer. It is, truly, the bread that frees us from death. Do we treat it that way?

Christ the Teacher  St. Mark spends as much time describing the odd events that immediately led up to the Last Supper as he does describing the institution of the Eucharist itself. What does the man carrying the water jar have to do with Christ’s saving sacrifice? Some scholars surmise that Jesus kept the location of the Last Supper secret in order to insure that his enemies wouldn’t be able to apprehend him there. If he had said openly where they would be gathered, Judas would have been able to tip off the Jewish leaders. Other scholars point out that carrying water was a woman’s task in ancient Palestine, so finding a man carrying water subtly indicates the new order of things that Christ is about to establish.

Whatever scholars may say, however, one thing is clear: Jesus knew exactly how this last evening with his apostles was going to pan out. His instructions about finding the place for their celebration show that the occurrences of that evening were not left up to chance. Every word, every action was part of a drama being directed by God, most especially the highlight – the institution of the Eucharist. This was no ordinary supper, no traditional celebration: the images and shadows of the Old Covenant would give way this night to the fullness of the New Covenant. The Eucharist, the sacramental foreshadowing and prolongation of Calvary, is no abstract symbol; it is the ultimate reality towards which all other symbols converge.

Christ the Friend  Christ gave his disciples bread, which had become his own body. Then he gave them wine, which had become his blood. He did this for their sake, and for the sake of all who would be saved from the slavery to sin. What greater gift could he have given them, and through them, to us? Christ continues to take, bless, break, and give the bread and wine that are his body and blood – he does it through his priests of his Church, because he wants to stay with us and be our life. And this gift has no strings attached. Jesus gives it even though we are undeserving; like Judas, we have betrayed our Lord countless times. Every time we ignore or discard the voice of conscience, every time we pick and choose among the Church’s teachings, every time we judge our neighbor and fail to love others as Christ as loved us, we echo Judas’ betrayal. Christ’s love doesn’t depend on our being worthy; Christ’s love depends only on his burning desire to give us the fullness of life. What a relief to have such a friend, one who cares only about giving, and one who can give such an incomparable gift!

Christ in My Life  Thank you for the Eucharist, your quiet, dependable presence in every Tabernacle. What more could I desire, having you so close to me, waiting for me, adoring the Father in every moment on my behalf? And thank you for the great gift of Holy Communion, in which you come into my very being to be my nourishment and joy. Teach me to receive these gifts worthily…

You, Lord, are all-knowing and all-powerful. All the events of my life, whether big or small, are equally under you loving, wise care. Please open my eyes so that I can see you in all things, love you in all things, and thank you and serve you as I ought to. Save me from the meaningless routine of a superficial, frenetic, giddy life. Teach me to live as you created me to live…

How my soul needs your pure love! You alone can love perfectly. When you look at me you want only one thing: that I become what you created me to be. Your smile has no hidden agendas. You are love! You love me! How strange, how hard for me to accept this truth, to bring it from my head to my heart! Pound my heart with your love, my Lord, until it fills me to overflowing…


PS: This is just one of 303 units of Fr. John’s fantastic book The Better Part. To learn more about The Better Part or to purchase in print, Kindle or iPhone editions, click here. Also, please help us get these resources to people who do not have the funds or ability to acquire them by clicking here.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". He has also published two other titles: "Meditations for Mothers" and "A Guide to Christian Meditation". Fr. John currently splits his time between Rome and Rhode Island, where he teaches theology as an adjunct professor at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum and at Mater Ecclesia College. He is also continuing his writing apostolate with online retreats at and questions and answers on the spiritual life at FATHER JOHN'S BOOKS include: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer", Inside the Passion--The Only Authorized Insiders View of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, Meditations for Mothers, and A Guide to Christian Meditation.

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  • New Name

    “We feast on the rich food of your house; from your delightful stream you give us drink.  For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light.” Psalm 36:9-10

    O light of the nations, bread of angels, giver of life giving food, remain in us forever!  Purify us and help us to follow you and give ourselves completely to you.   With, through and in you, Jesus, may we reflect your light and holy will.  May we draw others to you as we await the day we hope to live with you forever, that day of eternal love and joy, when, with one voice, we will glorify Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God who reigns forever and ever.

    • judeen

      God has given us Him and all the tools we need to help others to get healed… we need to direct people to help… we have retreats. to bring them back , heal and renew their faith.. we have confession to break sin.. and our pride.. we have baptizism to become a child of God and Holy Euchrist… and mass.. we need to love thy neighbor, like our protestent freinds in God. yet in a deeper way… spiritually.. helping people get free …. the pople said there should be a exersisit in every dioceses.. this would help people who got mixed up with bad stuff , also break curse, and generational stuff. or run into a house that was uses badly… so on…

  • Becky313

    “How my soul needs your pure love! You alone can love perfectly. When you look at me you want only one thing: that I become what you created me to be. Your smile has no hidden agendas. You are love! You love me! How strange, how hard for me to accept this truth, to bring it from my head to my heart! Pound my heart with your love, my Lord, until it fills me to overflowing…”


    Thanks Fr. John

    • New Name

       “You have been purchased, and at a price.” 1 Cor 6:20

    • judeen

      this is a big 1 God loves us… even right were we are ,, but loves us so much he does not leave us there… we do not need to be someone, or do something special or be something . He loves us… we need to tell others… about His love

      • New Name

         “…we need to tell others…about His love.”

        You just did judeen!  God bless you!

  • judeen

    the water… in the bible is it not the Holy Spirit or life… God sends us people when we try to do Gods will… betral ? judus… in life there are many… our emotions, body .. sometimes.. people of all kinds.. even on our paish boards.. who is putting God 1st.. or their own aggendas.. who is really working for God or another… or self… 
        the HOly Euchrist… is powerful… the offitory or the mass, I do beleive some are deleivered , use my belief in You Jesus, heal , help , renew and deleiver people from sorrows addiction so on…

    • New Name

      Ah, your heart is in the right place, judeen.

  • Mary@42

    So beautifully and eloquently stated in this short quotation, Fr. John. May God bless you and the entire Team of the Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction for your Divine toil in “His Vineyard”.  

    “When you look at me you want only one thing: that I become what you created me to be. Your smile has no hidden agendas. You are love!”

    Yes, my Jesus, the time I spend daily before You in the Blessed Sacrament is unique each day….Your love envelopes me, even if I am absolutely unaware of it through the human senses…..and Your Words above, have pierced my heart and soul and filled me with Gratitude….gratitude that, despite my wretchedness and brokenness, You love me with Your unfathomable Divine Love as only God can love. And to be united with You in Holy Communion is a humbling joy which no words can describe. 

    • New Name

       Beautiful!  Thank you Mary.

    • Marguerite

      thank you Mary for sharing!  this brought me to tears!   “When you look at me you want only one thing: that I come what you created me to be. Your smile has no hidden agendas. You are loved!    When I read that It brings me to tears, I have to question why and I don’t understand my  reaction but I feel that God is  trying to get me to understand the depth of His love for me and  my senses and my ability of not feeling that love is  leaving me feel that , I need to trust more In Gods love and  have a spirit of gratitude.  Thanks again Mary for  this reflection  I hope that through reflection  Icome to realize just how much God loves us! 

  • Mary@42

    Gracious God, and this is to-day – Thursday’s  Gospel Readings…..Praise be Jesus Christ……the perfect Message to meditate upon, marveling at God’s Love for us all.

  • Genny

    A quote from Mother Theresa that I sent one of my new age relative recently was received positively. Infact she said she loved Mother Theresa’s quotes. This morning I watched a documentary on large hospital run in India by a prominent Hindu surgeon.  He does a lot of good for most of the poor of the country. But besides showing his work they also stressed on his religion and his worship of idols. Right next to his idols was an image of Mother Theresa. He also quotes her. So my question is what is it about her teachings that touches them but doesnt cause them to reach Jesus? Why do they stop at her? They know her as a Catholic nun. So shouldnt Jesus be at the core of her sayings??

    • New Name


      This is an interesting mystery around the world.  What you observe is the Holy Spirit opening hearts through Blessed Mother Teresa.  Although the Holy Spirit can work like a thunderclap or lightning, the Holy Spirit most often works very gently.  And, what you are observing IS that work.  We human beings want everything to happen right now.  But, God is very gentle.  “Consider that the Lord’s patience is directed toward salvation.” 2 Peter 3:15.

      What we can do is direct some of our prayers towards conversion. 

      btw–She did talk about Jesus a lot.  Her “sayings” that most often get quoted are just sound bites.  But, God only needs a tiny little bit of a person’s “yes” to work with…and He IS doing that.  He is at work in the world again, in this, the new day of the resurrection!

      • Genny

        Thanks so much for your reply.  I personally have’nt read Mother Theresa’s quotes.  So I was’nt sure of what she had stated.  But your reply causes me to pesevere in my prayers for these people especially my new age relatives.  What hurts is that they still pick and choose phrases that they think applies to them.

        • judeen

          you need to know your scripture .. and also about pride.. and control… they want to do something powerful.. not knowing they are lossing Gods power to dwell with in them… (weaker) seeking God in all the wronge ways, led down a path that makes them think they can do things instead of all things come from God…  send them to life in the spirit semeniar.. a week nightly retreat learning of the HOly Spirit.. or koinonia.. -which heals the wound they might have

        • New Name

          If you email these new age relatives, find phrases that you can quote from Mother Teresa and then put them at the top of your email before you start your note or letter.  You don’t have to say anything to them.  Just let the quotes speak for themselves (making sure you give her credit, of course).  Of course these are not all inclusive, but here are some sites where you can find some quotes:

    • judeen

      they beleive in Jesus and any other god… covering it all is their thought process… swamies do it this way… explained to me by a women who was in eastern religons for 30 years. kind of like when st. paul talked to the people who had alters of many Gods and paul said the worshiped His God – God of no name…
                    false Gods , is not of God.. so who is keeping them from worshiping the true God of mother tereasa?  

  • margare Shields

    Father B,
    I was reading one of your articles concerning the man with chronic anger problems. I thought it a wonderful article but wished you had also mentioned visiting a medical doctor/ psychiatrist of a possible medical side to the problem. Mental health issues could be a key ingredient to the problem. No question turning to God is paramount , but it is also paramount getting to the root of the problem. Our family with many members clinically depressed – PRAY AND SEE THE DOCTOR.

    • judeen

      mental illness….. that is a tuff 1 for me… there are reasons people get depressed…. I dont beleive in mental doc… I would send them to a christian coucling center.. where they would use scripture and help spiritually.. sorry  I do beleive metal problems are more spiritual than anything…

  • New Name

    Yes, even our dioceses/archdioceses employ Catholic mental health specialists.  It’s paramount to turn to God.  It’s also important to rule out health and psychological issues as well. 

  • Genny

    Yes I too had heard of this.  Infact I had even seen plenty of Hindu women praying to Mother Mary but only so as to receive something they desperately want.  Then it is back to their gods.  It is acceptable when they are born into a different faith.  Then for them they have yet to find the true God. But when Catholics turn their back on Jesus then it hurts so bad.

    • judeen

      our faith and theirs… example,, it is like 2 little kids…1 teenager and the other 5 … lets say… and then go play in the freeway.. who is going to get in more trouble with their parents… it is the 1 who knows better…  so too the more 1 knows what is right and wronge will be more acountable .. Jesus said forgive them for they do not know what they do…
            but also people who leave our faith is , they feel no faith .. there is something missing.. they go to other churches to learn scripture.. alot of them go to penecostal churches… some leave because they see through the prayers.. hypracrites… just saying the prayers not meaning them or living them… others exposed to power of the Holy Spirit then can not find it in their churchs looking for something spiritual.. witchcraft…. ( this is only what I think)

  • Mary@42

    Marguerite, your tears come because Jesus is talking to Your soul at that moment… cannot feel it with your human senses, but the soul rejoices as it is embraced by that Divine Love and Mercy…..and subconscious to you, you physically respond spontaneously through these tears which you do not understand

    Jesus has put it so beautifully when He spoke to Saint Faustina Kowalska, His Secretary and Apostle of His Divine Mercy : ” I have opened My Heart as a Living Fountain of mercy.  Let all souls draw life from It.  Let them approach this sea of mercy with great trust.” (Diary No.1520

    • Marguerite

      Thank you Mary for getting back to my post to you. This makes sense to me . I’m happy to know God doesn’t give up on us.  I The thought of Jesus talking to my soul, well He talks to my soul often, This being said I find and question why am I emotionally brought to tears when in 

       church and often after  recieving the eucharist. I have a few moments of prayer and just feel God’s presense with me and for thart I very greatful!  I really appreciate your posts on here Mary and find them very helpful, May God continue to bless you in your giving to others, have a great day and thanks again for your spiritual direction. 

    • New Name

      Wonderful words Mary.  You have been truly been given a gift of counsel.  God bless you!