Sunday: Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord's Supper Date: March 28, 2013 Year: C The readings: [Exo. 12:1-8, 11-14; 1 Cor. 11:23-6; Jn. 13:1-15] The message: The institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Prepared by: Catholic Doors Ministry Total words: 1667
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My brothers and sisters in Christ, in order to prepare ourselves to commemorate the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ on Easter Day, today, we are celebrating Holy Thursday. This Feast solemnly commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist. During the history of the Holy Catholic Church, this special Feast has been associated with the baptism of new converts, the reconciliation of penitents, the consecration of the holy oils, the washing of the feet and the commemoration of the Blessed Eucharist. As such, this Feast has received many different names that all represent Holy Thursday.
Holy Thursday is the night on which our Lord Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples. What went through the mind of the disciples on that night, we will never know. We can only imagine. What we do know is that Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from the world and to go to the Father. While Jesus had been preparing His disciples for some time, hinting to them that He was about to be betrayed and crucified, the disciples did not appear to perceive what Jesus was telling them.
After all, the disciples were human beings just like all of us. Most likely, they were more impressed with the miracles of Jesus, His infinite wisdom as a Teacher and Rabbi, and His endless knowledge of the mysteries of God. While some of the disciples affirmed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah, their actions at the time of the arrest of Jesus clearly tell us that they were very weak in human nature.
During today's First Reading from the Book of Exodus, [Exo. 12:1-8, 11-14] God the Father alluded to Moses and His people that the day of the New Covenant of grace was coming.
In that reading, God the Father gave at least eight different pictures of things to come. In the institution of the Passover to commemorate the day when His people were freed from slavery, God indicated that that month would mark for the people the beginning of months. For new converts to the Catholic Church who are receiving the Sacrament of Baptism during the Easter season, this month marks for them the beginning of the liturgical year that is to follow.
God the Father spoke of taking a lamb without blemish. As we know, Jesus was the Lamb of God without defect or blemish. [Jn. 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:19] "For our sake God made Jesus to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." [2 Cor. 5:21]
God the Father commanded Moses and His people to eat the lamb. Jesus is the Lamb of God and the Bread of Life. [Jn. 6:35, 48-50] By eating the Bread of Life, the Holy Eucharist, we freely receive the life of Christ that leads to our salvation.
To clarify this, it is necessary to understand the progressive order of the Church Sacraments. Through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, we receive gifts from God. We receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And we receive our new creation of the godly seed, the promised new heart and new spirit. And finally, through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are made righteous in the eyes of God, receiving forgiveness for the original sin that stained our souls and the "sins that we previously committed." [Rom. 3:25]
When we sin after having received the Sacrament of Baptism, we need the Sacrament of Reconciliation to once more reinstate the righteousness of the Lord God that we previously enjoyed through Christ.
Now being in a state of grace through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive our salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of God, we need the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Bread of Life.
During the First Reading, God the Father also spoke of the firstborn. Again, this is a picture of Jesus. Jesus is "the firstborn within a large family." [Rom. 8:29] He is the first fruits of those who have died. [1 Cor 15:20] He is the firstfruit of all creation. [Col. 1:15] As the King of kings, He was the first to resurrect and to enter the Kingdom of God.
The blood of the lamb is a picture of the Blood of Christ. Through the Blood of Christ, we are justified. [Rom. 5:9] To pass over those where the blood of the lamb is seen means that there will be no judgment against those who are made righteous before the eyes of God by the Lamb of God. Jesus said, "Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life." [Jn. 5:24]
When God the Father said that He would pass over Egypt, He was giving us a picture of passing over the darkness of the world. In those days, the Egyptians, as gentiles, worshipped different idols. They were not part of God's people and promises. So when God shall pass His judgment over the world, He shall pass over those who have received their righteousness through the Blood of Christ.
Finally, in the days of Moses, God commanded that the Feast of the Passover be remembered. It should be celebrated as a festival to the Lord, throughout every generations as a perpetual ordinance. This command is a picture of the feast of Holy Thursday that is being celebrated today. It is a picture of the Last Supper that is celebrated daily throughout the world in remembrance of the words of Jesus and the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Bread of Life.
During today's Second Reading, [1 Cor. 11:23-26] St. Paul affirmed to us what he personally received from the Lord Jesus. Jesus commanded us to celebrate the Holy Mass and the Holy Eucharist in remembrance of Him. St. Paul tells us that this is the New Covenant of grace through the Blood of Jesus. Through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we are to proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.
So sacred is the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that in the next three verses that followed during today's Second Reading, St. Paul gave us a guideline as to how we should receive this Sacrament. "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves." [1 Cor. 11:27- 6]
To avoid the judgment of the Lord, we should receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in a state of grace, after having received the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
What does it mean to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in a state of grace? It means that those who are living in a common- law relationships or same sex relationships do not qualify to receive Holy Communion. It means that without the Sacrament of Confession, those who commit adultery disqualify themselves from the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. It means that those who have been involved in abortions in any way, until such time as their excommunication has been lifted by the proper ecclesiastical authority, they cannot receive Holy Communion. It means that those who are in a state of mortal sin, until such time as they have sincerely repented and confessed their sins, they cannot approach the Sacred Table to receive the Bread of Life.
Today's Reading from the Gospel of John told us that during the Last Supper, Jesus did something very unusual. He got on His knees and washed the feet of His disciples. What tremendous humility we see in this act of Divine love. The greatest Teacher of all times, our Lord God Himself, humbled Himself as a servant of His children. Loving His children of the world until the end, He wanted to do something special by which He would be remembered. He wanted to leave them an example to live by.
When Peter protested against Jesus washing his feet, Jesus told him, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." And when Jesus had finished washing the feet of the disciples, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and lord - and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.'"
My brothers and sisters in Christ, today's readings have two spiritual messages for us that cannot be separated. First of all, the Feast of Holy Thursday is in remembrance of the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. From this Sacrament, the Bread of Life, comes the inheritance of salvation and eternal life in the beatific vision of God in His Kingdom.
The second message is that we are to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in a worthy manner. To be pleasing to the eyes of God as shining spirits in Christ, we must humble ourselves as Jesus humbled Himself. In our living faith in Christ, we must be prepared to serve others. Through such actions, by our shining in the light and love of Christ, we are granted a worthy state of grace through which we can partake in the Holy Mass in order to receive the Lord Jesus in our hearts through the Holy Eucharist.
Through such actions, we shall gloriously enter the eternal Kingdom of God.
"The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbour in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it.
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
This is how you shall eat it; your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the Passover of the Lord.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments; I am the Lord.
The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
This day shall be a day of remembrance of you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance." [Exo. 12:1-8]
""Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'
In the same way he took the cup also, 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 this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." [1 Cor. 11:23-6]
"Before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?' Jesus answered, 'You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.' Peter said to him, 'You will never wash my feet.' Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.' Simon Peter said to him, 'Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!' Jesus said to him, 'One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.' For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, 'Not all of you are clean.'
After he had washed their feet, put on his robe, and returned to the table, Jesus said to them, 'Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord - and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.'" [Jn. 13:1-15]