Holy Thursday – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, April 9
Jesus Truly Is Our Model of Selfless Love and Humble Service; He Truly Is Our Eternal Nourishment and Our Only Path to Eternal Joy.
We hear our Lord saying to each of us in today’s Gospel, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
Today, we are nearing the end of our Lenten journey – a journey in which the Church asks us to reflect upon our life of faith, upon our relationship which we should be actively living in our daily lives with Jesus Christ.
Yet, our faith journey does not end tomorrow on Calvary, nor does it end in our celebration of the Easter Resurrection. Rather, ours was a journey which began the moment we were baptized – a moment in which you and I were configured to Christ; and it is a moment which continues to evolve and grow within our hearts and souls, until each of us, one day, finally stands before the Risen Christ in judgment!
As we enter into the Paschal Triduum – a journey in which we live the holiest time of the Christian year, walking with Christ through His Passion, Death and Resurrection – our journey today brings us to the Last Supper, a moment in time when our Lord knew that He had less than twenty-four hours to live, a moment in time when our Lord said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
It is at this moment that our Lord institutes the Eucharist. It is at this moment that our Lord institutes the ministerial priesthood. And it is at this moment when our Lord teaches us the true meaning of humble service to each of our brothers and sisters.
And he says to each of us, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
And this remembrance started so long ago when God was about to show His loving protection for His chosen people, as they were about to be released from their bondage of enslavement under Pharaoh’s rule.
In our First Reading from the Book of Exodus, God is speaking to Moses and Aaron about their first Passover meal which they were to eat as a “memorial feast…which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”
We also read in Exodus that God instructed them that a lamb, a blemish free male, was to be sacrificed for the Passover meal, from which we, as Christians, can draw symbolism to the Sacrificial Lamb, Jesus Christ, who was without any stain of sin, blemish free, and who freely laid down His Life so that we may have a share in His Eternal Kingdom.
In today’s Second Reading, we find the earliest written account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament. This narrative, which is part of Paul’s First Letter written to the people of the Church in Corinth around the year 56 A.D., emphasizes Jesus’ profound and most wondrous act of self-giving, which is expressed in the words He spoke over the bread and the cup. And He asked us to “do this in remembrance” of Him.
Remembrance – Passover and Eucharist – they each speak to us of God’s continuing and providential Love which He has for all of His children – a Love which is echoed by our psalmist in today’s Responsorial, “How shall I make a return to the LORD for all the good he has done for me? The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the LORD.”
It is a psalm of thanksgiving, in which the author responds to God’s goodness. For the “cup of salvation” is truly the Source and Summit of our life of faith here on this side of eternity.
In reflection upon today’s Readings, we are drawn to this innocent and blemish-free Lamb who teaches us about what it truly means to love others selflessly, and to witness this limitless Love lived out in complete humility and obedience to His Father – a Love which we are to emulate in our own individual walks of faith.
We see this in our First Reading when we witness God’s desire to protect and free His chosen people through the actions of His servant Moses. And as food for the journey which they were about to undertake the next day, they ate the flesh of the unblemished lamb.
And in Saint Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, he tells us of the account of the Last Supper, and Jesus’ desire to always remain with us through the Sacrament of the Eucharist when He says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” For this is the desire of the Sacrificial Lamb who wishes to feed us with His Most Precious Body and Blood as spiritual food for our journey through life.
Today’s Mass is a memorial of the first Mass – of the institution of the ordained priesthood, for it was through Jesus’ words to His Apostles, “Do this in remembrance of me” by which our Lord institutes His Apostles as priests of the New Covenant.
This last meal, this Passover supper which Jesus ate with His disciples the night before He died, is symbolic of Jesus’ passing over to His Father, through His Death and Resurrection – thereby becoming the new Passover.
It is this Eucharist, established by Jesus at the Last Supper, which we celebrate at every Mass! It is this Eucharist, instituted by Christ, which is the mystery of our salvation, renewed and accomplished through the words and actions of the priest celebrant and through our participation in the Sacrificial Death and Glorious Resurrection of Christ at each and every Mass!
The Eucharist becomes for each of us a Paschal banquet, in which Christ is consumed, you and I are filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us by Christ Himself!
What greater sign of Infinite Love could our Savior possibly have left us? And it is around this Divine gift of Eucharist, communion with the God who created us and loves us, from which all other ministries flow – for it is the Eucharist which is the Source, Summit and Life of the Church.
It is the Eucharist which is the Source and Summit of our own life of faith here on this side of Heaven. It is a faith which teaches us that our God is a God of Love, and that He asks each of us to imitate that quality of selfless love in our daily lives with all those whom we come in contact.
And what greater Source of nourishment could we possibly receive to enable us to imitate the life of love and humble service which our Lord displays for us in today’s Gospel? Saint John presents us with the scene of Jesus who, being not only Lord and Master but also God in the flesh, chose to teach His Apostles a lesson in humility through selflessly serving the needs of others – placing others first before themselves.
Jesus, after washing the feet of His Apostles, said, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
The virtue of humility is taught to us through our Lord’s actions, and it is through our own daily words and actions, as brothers and sisters in Christ, that the virtues of love and humility should be continually practiced for the good of the Body of Christ today, in imitation and in response to all that our Savior has taught us and the many examples He personally had shown us.
In washing the feet of His disciples, Jesus is also washing ours, setting an example for each of us to follow. Ministries of charity and service, ministries of Word and evangelization, ministries of liturgy all flow from this central hub, which is the Eucharist, as spokes on a wheel, reaching out to the spiritual needs of God’s children, the Body of Christ.
Jesus gave us Himself in the Eucharist out of Love. He also gave us service to our brothers and sisters out of Love; and He taught us, through His example at the Last Supper, that such service must be done with humility.
Today’s Readings, and today’s celebration in memory of the Last Supper, teach us so much about what it truly means to be a Christian people in the way we live our lives. To be witness to God’s Love in today’s world is truly an awesome gift and responsibility, for it is Christ Himself who calls us to become the extension of His Word, His Love and His Mercy to a world which oftentimes rejects His Presence and appears so cold to His will.
In the relationship which you and I are fostering each day with our Lord and Savior, may we always be open to His gift of Eternal Love, and may we always respond to His invitation to be one with Him with an open and willing heart. For Jesus truly is our only Way, our only Path to eternal joy and happiness, sustaining us as we journey through life with His Most Precious Body and Blood!
Jesus said to His Apostles almost two thousand years ago, and He says to each one of us today, for His words are timeless, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
Jesus Christ truly is our Eternal Nourishment and our Model of selfless love and humble service!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt…‘This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.’” (Exodus 12:1, 14)
- “When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’” (Luke 22:14-15)
- “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:23b-26)
- “Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.’” (John 6:53-55)
- “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” (John 6:56-57)
- “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16)
- “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)
- “[Jesus] said to them, ‘Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.’” (John 13:12b-15)
- “How shall I make a return to the LORD for all the good he has done for me? The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the LORD.” (Psalm 116:12-13)
Prayer for the Day
“Jesus, my Lord and my Savior,
I confess that I am a sinner.
But in Your Goodness,
You invite me to approach Your Holy Table
and to partake of Your Heavenly Banquet.
“Trusting in Your Mercy,
I come to You with confidence,
albeit with it a contrite and humble heart.
Lord, I am not worthy
that You should enter under my roof.
“Say but the word,
and my soul shall be healed.
Come to me, Lord Jesus,
and keep me in Your Love.
“Help me to recognize You
in the consecrated bread and wine.
Feed me with Your Most Precious Body and Blood;
nourish and strengthen me in my life of faith.
“Help me with Your grace to live a virtuous life,Anonymous
fulfilling all that You have asked of me.
For it is only in You, Jesus, where I find my true faith;
it is only in You where I find my eternal salvation. Amen.”