Theme: THE INSTITUTION OF THE EUCHARIST, THE INSTITUTION OF THE PRIESTHOOD AND THE COMMANDMENT TO LOVE
- Exodus 12:1-8. 11-14;
- 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
- Gospel Acclamation: John 13:34
- Gospel: John 13:1-15
Tonight we celebrate Holy Thursday, Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Holy Thursday is the beginning of Good Friday. In fact it is the beginning of the Easter Triduum of “three days”, namely Good Friday (death), Holy Saturday (burial) and Easter Sunday (resurrection). The Easter Triduum is one celebration. There will not be any dismissal tonight or tomorrow. The dismissal will only take place after the Easter Vigil celebration. We have to come for all the celebrations of the Easter Triduum.
Tonight we celebrate three principal mysteries, namely, the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of the priesthood, and the commandment to love.
Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist to make present, real and effective, here and now, his death, resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for our salvation!
The second reading from 1 Corinthians tells us about the institution of the Eucharist. It is the oldest written account of the institution of the Eucharist (AD 56), older even than the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke!
The second reading tells us that Jesus did four actions in the institution of the Eucharist, that is, take the bread, thank the Father, break the bread and give the bread to his disciples. Tonight in the Eucharist we will do the same four actions of Jesus. We will take (Presentation of the gifts/Offertory), thank (Eucharistic Prayer, that is, Preface to Doxology), break (breaking of the bread) and give (Holy Communion). And when we receive Holy Communion, we receive his Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of our sins and for our salvation!
The second reading also tells us that whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup we are proclaiming his death until he comes! That is, whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup we are proclaiming his saving death until he comes again, when all will be saved! Again, the Eucharist makes present, real and effective, here and now, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!
Tonight we also commemorate the institution of the priesthood. In the short account of the institution of the Eucharist, Jesus mentioned twice, once over the bread and once over the cup, to do it in memorial of him. In this double command to do it in memorial of him, Jesus instituted the priesthood to celebrate the Eucharist. We need a priest to celebrate the Eucharist, the Sacraments and the Liturgy.
I am happy and thankful to note that we have three candidates from our parish undergoing formation in the seminary to be priests! As we enter the Church we have the statue of St. John Vianney (patron saint of parish priests) on the left side of the church door to inspire our young men to be priests! Let us continue to pray for our priests and to pray for our seminarians and to pray for more young men to become priests.
Tonight we also commemorate the commandment to love. The gospel acclamation from John tells us to love one another as Jesus loved us! The gospel itself also from John tells us how Jesus loved us. The gospel tells us that when Jesus was at supper with his disciples, he took off his outer garment, wrapped a towel round his waist, poured water onto a basin and washed the feet of his disciples! Jesus Master and Lord became servant and slave to his disciples! And he told his disciples to imitate his example and to wash one another’s feet!
But more importantly, the gospel tonight is symbolic of Jesus washing away our sins with his blood on the cross, washing away our sins with the Holy Spirit of his death and resurrection, and washing away our sins with the waters of Baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit! (CSB; HCSB) We are therefore to imitate Jesus not only in his love and service, but also in his suffering and sacrifice for the sanctification and salvation of the whole world!
After this homily we will do the “washing of feet” which is symbolic of Jesus love and service, and more importantly, symbolic of Jesus washing away our sins with his blood on the cross! After that we will celebrate the Eucharist in which Jesus will wash away our sins with his blood! Thus the consecration of the cup:
“Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.”
And thus this extract from the Preface of tonight’s Mass (Preface I of the Most Holy Eucharist):
“As we eat his flesh that was sacrificed for us, we are made strong, and, as we drink his Blood that was poured out for us, we are washed clean.”
After this Mass there will not be any dismissal. The dismissal will only be given after the Easter Vigil. After this Mass there will be a transfer of the Holy Eucharist to a place of reposition, symbolizing the Lord being taken away for crucifixion. At the place of reposition we will spend some time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, symbolizing spending our time with the Lord in his agony in the Garden.
In the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament we also thank the Lord for instituting the Eucharist in memorial of him, that is, to make him present, real and effective, here and now!
Tomorrow is Good Friday. It is a day of fasting and abstinence. That is, those over 14 years of age are to abstain from eating meat, and those over 16 and under 60 years of age are to fast, that is, eating only one full meal for the day. A blessed Triduum to all of you! Amen!