This Friday evening, our Jewish brothers and sisters will be taking part in the Passover Seder.
The ritual meal recounts the liberation of the Hebrew people from Egyptian bondage. By taking part in the Seder, the Jewish people complete the command to:
“…explain to your son, ‘This is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ (Exodus 13:8)
Here is a video from the MassExplained iPad App that shows the origin of the Passover Seder:
The farewell dinner Jesus shared with his closest friends was almost certainly a Passover Seder. The first three Gospel accounts say it was:
“On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, ‘Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?’”—Matthew 26:17
“On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, ‘Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?’”—Mark 14:12
“When the day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread arrived, the day for sacrificing the Passover lamb, he sent out Peter and John, instructing them, ‘Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.’”—Luke 22:7,8
The Gospel according to John, however, tells of the Last Supper taking place:
“Before the feast of Passover,” —John 13:1
Regardless of whether it was a Seder or not, Jesus reinterpreted and transformed several Passover themes at his final meal. If we familiarize ourselves with the ritual of the Seder, and see how Jesus departed from that ritual, we can understand the importance of his words and deeds that evening, which are the foundation of the Catholic Mass.