The Upper Room is a site in Jerusalem unique unto itself. Most sites we visit have a church with beautiful and ornate paintings, mosaics, and icons. The Upper Room, however, is exactly what it sounds like: simply an upper room. It has quite the history though. For hundreds of years believers have held the tradition that the Last Supper and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles happened in that spot. A church was built there in the 5th century, destroyed in 614, then rebuilt again and destroyed again in 965. The room that we are able to visit now is part of a church that Crusaders built in the 12th century, which partly fell into ruins, then was attended to by Franciscans for a few hundred years, and was also used as a mosque for a while. Yes, it has a lot of history! While the room might be simple and seen by many as a disappointing site, it is still very moving.
Today, after classes, a friend and I decided to walk to the Upper Room and meditate on the events that happened there. As I imagined the Last Supper taking place in that room, I could not help but think about the apostles. What was going through their minds as Jesus, their Lord and closest friend, washed their feet? What were they thinking when Jesus gave them His body and blood in the form of bread and wine? Did they have any idea what their future would hold: that most of them would be sent out to the ends of the earth and martyred?
Much of the conversation between us seminarians this trip has been about our upcoming ordination. It is only about two months away! In some ways we are very similar to the apostles. We have spent multiple years getting to know Jesus as the apostles did, and now we are soon to be priests. Do we know what we are getting into? Are we ready for what the future might hold as priests? Ready or not, we will be thrown into ministry like the apostles. “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1), Jesus told His apostles during supper. He also tells us not to let our hearts be troubled. We can find comfort and encouragement in these words.
As I was leaving the Upper Room, I remembered that tradition holds that the Upper Room is not only the site of the Last Supper, but also the site of the descent of the Holy Spirit. I pray that the Holy Spirit will enter into the hearts of all of us here as we prepare to go out to the entire world as the apostles did. I pray that we will never stop learning from Christ’s example of servitude and the new commandment He gave the disciples during the Last Supper: “As I have loved you, so you should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).