Theme: THE EUCHARIST MAKES PRESENT, REAL AND EFFECTIVE THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT FOR THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD!
- Exodus 12:1-8. 11-14;
- Psalm 115:12-13. 15-18. R/ cf.
- 1 Corinthians 10:16;
- 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
- John 13:1-15
This evening we celebrate Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This evening we commemorate three principal mysteries, that is, the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, and the commandment to love!
The gospel today tells us about the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus. Unlike the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, the gospel of John does not have the institution of the Eucharist; instead it has the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus! The washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus is the meaning of the Eucharist!
The gospel today tells us that when they were at supper, Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer garment, wrapped a towel round his waist, poured water into a basin and washed the disciples’ feet and dried them with the towel.
When he had finished washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus put on his clothes and went back to the table. And he told his disciples that though he was their Lord and Master, yet he washed their feet. They were therefore to follow him and wash one another’s feet! That is, they were to love and serve one another!
But more than that, the dialogue of Jesus with Peter in today’s gospel tells us of the symbolic meaning of the gospel, that is, Jesus does not only wash our feet, but more importantly, Jesus also washes away our sins with the waters of Baptism, that is, he washes away our sins with the Holy Spirit! And Jesus continues to wash away our sins with the blood of the Eucharist, that is, the blood of the cross, every Sunday! (HCSB; IBC; CSB; CCB)
In other words, Jesus does not only love and serve, but he also suffers and sacrifices for the sanctification and salvation of the world! And he told us to follow him and do the same! But how can we do the same? We can do the same with the help of the Holy Spirit!
That is why before his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world, Jesus instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood to make present, real and effective his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!
The second reading tells us about the institution of the Eucharist and of the priesthood. The second reading from the first letter to the Corinthians is the most ancient written account of the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. It is even more ancient than the accounts in the gospels. It was written around the year A.D. 55! (CCB)
The second reading tells us that in instituting the Eucharist, Jesus did four things: (i) He took the bread. (ii) He thanked God for the bread. (iii) He broke the bread. (iv) He gave the bread.
Tonight in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we will do the same four things that Jesus did in the institution of the Eucharist: (i) We will take the bread (Offertory). We will thank God for the bread (Eucharistic Prayer). (iii) We will break the bread. (iv) We will give the bread (Holy Communion)!
Most importantly, the second reading tells us that whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes! That is, whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the “saving death” of the Lord (HCSB), that is, his death, resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world, until he comes again at the end of the world when all will be saved!
Again, the Eucharist makes present, real and effective the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! It is with the help of the Holy Spirit that we do what Jesus commanded us to do, that is, to love and serve, to suffer and sacrifice, and to sanctify and save the world!
Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins Good Friday; in fact, it begins the Easter Triduum of three days, namely, Good Friday (Crucifixion), Holy Saturday (Burial), and Easter Sunday (Resurrection)! The three days are but one celebration! That is why there is no dismissal on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The dismissal will only be given after the Easter Vigil. That is why we have to come for all the three days! We shall now proceed with the “washing of the feet” and the Eucharist! A happy and blessed Easter Triduum to all of you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.