Passover and Holy Thursday


Friday, March 29, 2013

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Holy Week in the Roman Catholic Church is as much about history as the Passover meal is to Jews. And it was at the Passover meal that Jesus who was ethnically a Jew, passed around the unleavened bread, used to remind the people of the unleavened bread that their ancestors hastily made in order to flee the Egyptians on the start of the journey throughout the wilderness, which took the 40 years, to the Promised Land. When Jesus passed around the bread he said "take this and eat of it for this is my body".

In the same way, Jesus passed around the cup of grape wine, which was used at the Passover to remind the people of the blood that was shed by their forefathers while they were slaves in Egypt, and said, "take this and drink of it all of you, this is my blood. Whenever you do this, do it in memory of me."

The Catholic Church, whose genesis is the commissioning of the apostles by Jesus Christ, and the Orthodox churches, which were also started by apostles, teaches that the communion is the Body and blood of Jesus Christ and that only ordained priests (which obviously includes bishops) have the authority to consecrate bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus.

In a real way then, Holy Thursday is one of two culminating points of Holy Week. On Holy Thursday we remember that Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist. But while the word "Eucharist literally means "Thanksgiving" (Jesus broke the bread and gave thanks, passed around the cup and gave thanks). However, most Protestant churches teach that communion is symbolic but not actual.

It seems to be an annual event in Jamaica that every Easter a 'Christopher Columbus' or other 'discovers' that the Easter celebration is not in the Bible and this is supposed to be news. Of course it isn't. Pope Victor I (185-195 AD), an African, acculturated the Easter celebration with pagan Roman practices so that Romans would worship Jesus Christ and not their pagan gods.

So Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (first day of Spring, March 21). Jesus was born in Bethlehem (literally House of bread), Jesus Christ used the Jewish Passover to enact the Lord's Supper, God used the corn festival 50 days after the Passover (known as Pentecost) to institute the Church, and Norman Manley's initial plan was to use May 24, Empire Day, as National Labour Day.

The elder Manley changed it to May 23 (the day before) on the request of an opposition MP, because May 23 was the anniversary of the start of the modern labour movement by Alexander Bustamante. All of the Protestant reformers including Martin Luther (the German) who initiated the idea of Sola Scriptura, had no problem with either the observance of Easter or Christmas, and neither are in the Bible.

A minister of religion writing from abroad and published in the Jamaica Observer describes the teaching that communion is the Body and Blood of Christ as cannibalistic. But wasn't that the same thing that most of Jesus' disciples thought and as a result left the flock leaving only 12 (John Chapter 6)? Every time I hear people from some churches give this opinion it reminds me of the disciples who stopped following Jesus for the same reason.

I have often argued that Jamaica should have an Emancipendence Meal. Jamaica's Emancipation and Independence holidays are near, and both dates are the actual anniversaries, a meal should be developed whereby each item of food used in the meal represents some point in the journey from slavery to Independence.

The Passover meal is about history. Holy Week is about history. The celebration of our national holidays is about history. Yet not enough attention is being paid to history in Jamaica. The Passover meal alone teaches so much history that would normally take five years in high school. This is one of the reasons why I believe that we should have an Emancipendence meal.

I make my living by doing history research, apart from doing media commentaries and political analysis. But most people want history for free in Jamaica; they do not want to pay for history research. That is one sign of the scant regard they have not only for history but for historians. Also, history in schools was made optional in the 1980s and replaced with business subjects.

There was an article in the Sunday Gleaner of March 24 which states that Jamaican teachers in the Turks and Caicos Islands may be made redundant in place of European teachers who will teach the new English examination because the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands are opting for that examination over the CXC. The government of the Turk islands are concerned that some foreign universities do not accept the CXC for entry by Caribbean students. Is this another manifestation of cultural imperialism?

Even if the CXC is not of a first rate standard, it is still of a higher standard than many American high schools examinations, which automatically provide entry into so many American universities. I believe that the move is to get Caribbean high school students to sit foreign exams so that they can sell examination fees. Turks and Caicos Islands is still a British colony, so the European exam can be imposed on them. That at least is my take on it.

What will the rest of the English speaking Caribbean do if eventually the only universities that accept the CXC are those in the Caribbean? Should we then insist that foreigners to the Caribbean take the CXC if they wish to enter any Caribbean university? I do not have the answer. Even then, is it necessary for the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands to stop the CXC examinations? Don't most universities have an entrance examination in any case? Of greater concern to me is the demise of the teaching of history. This is all the more reason for an Emancipendence meal similar to the Jewish Passover.

Have a Happy Easter.


NORMAN MANLEY ... changed Labour Day from May 24 to May 23 on request of Opposition MP

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