THURSDAY, THE PASCHAL TRIDUUM
Holy Thursday (Mass of the Lord’s Supper)
Ex 12:1-8,11-14; Ps 116: 12-13, 15-18; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15
THE SACRAMENT OF LOVE, THE EUCHARIST
With the celebration of Maundy Thursday which marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum, we enter the sacred mysteries of our Easter faith. We will witness tremendous scenes, some of them even frightening, in the life of Jesus as it slowly moves towards its end. It begins with the farewell meal by Jesus with his chosen ones where the sacrament of Eucharist is instituted and the commandment of love is emphatically demonstrated to be unconditionally followed. On the next day we hear different allegations being levelled against him, the monstrous cries “Crucify him, crucify him,” the scourging, the painful agony of carrying the cross and finally the crucifixion. But that’s not the end… God raises Jesus from the dead. We will be very soon celebrating this victory of Jesus over sin and death.
Even though the liturgy is called the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, there is no reference to the meal per se in the choice of the text from the gospel of John, and rather focuses on the foot washing. The meal becomes the setting for the foot washing of His disciples; a meal in which He institutes the Eucharist. Let us try to reflect on the significant scenes that took place on this day in the upper room:
- The Last Supper – The Institution of the Sacrament of the Eucharist: It was a farewell meal organized by Jesus himself on the occasion of the Passover feast. Why did Jesus take bread and wine during this meal when a bean stew, lamb, olives, bitter herbs, a fish sauce, unleavened bread, dates and aromatized wine were likely on the menu at the Passover feast? For the evangelist John, this is not a Passover meal; rather the opportunity to start something new, a new commandment. Bread, the staple food of the Jews and a prominent food in large parts of the world, has been of significant importance since the dawn of agriculture. Also, wine is considered a beverage of spiritual significance, reserved for holy and special occasions. Early rabbis recognized wine’s unique qualities, thus incorporating it into Jewish ceremonies. Both these commodities signify life. Using bread and wine during the Last Supper and instituting the Sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus promises us life in all its fullness.
2) The Institution of the ministerial Priesthood: The ministerial priesthood is a participation in the unique priesthood of Jesus Christ, its nature can be understood only with reference to the priesthood of Christ. Jesus’ Last Supper is the first mass and Jesus’ institution of the ministerial priesthood. “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19) is an evidence that Jesus instituted the apostles as his ministerial priest. Today we thank the Lord for these most precious gifts – the Eucharist and the priesthood. We also pray for all the priests serving us, to thank them especially for making Jesus alive on the altar. We also pray for vocations. May the youth inspired by Jesus dare to seriously respond to this call and follow him with dedication and commitment to work in his vineyard.
3) The New Commandment of Love: Jesus washes the feet of his disciples and promulgates the commandment of love, giving it a concrete form. Hereafter, we should all be schooled in sacrificial love and this love should become our way of life because, LOVE is the only language the deaf hear and the blind see. It’s an invitation for sacrificial sharing and self-giving love and it is by sharing our blessings – our talents, time, health, and wealth with others, that we become Christ-bearers and Christ-conveyors, who is love incarnate. If, today, we know what real and authentic love is – it’s because of Jesus Christ.
Maundy Thursday is a celebration of victory. Jesus celebrates the purpose of his life. At the end of life and he is extremely happy with what he has achieved and is ready for what is yet to be accomplished. Jesus is handing over the baton to his disciples after the successful completion of the first round of the race. He has run the race to perfection and he wants his disciples to carry on the same spirit. Let us be inspired by the Lord and ask him to nourish our lives with his body and blood to make us one like him.
Response: The cup of blessing is a participation in the blood of Christ..
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