Holy Thursday: Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper
Ex. 12: 1-8, 11-14
1 Cor. 11:23-26
Living a Eucharistic life demands not only the ability to say I love you;
but also the humility to say I am sorry.
Beloved in Christ, tonight we celebrate our God as a God who saves. Tonight we begin the Holy Triduum, which is a three-day celebration of the Passion, the Death, and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We begin the celebration with the institution of the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood. As St. Paul tells us in the second reading, before Jesus was crucified, he took bread and wine and changed those into his Holy Body and Blood for us, his disciples. Why was it important for Jesus to do that? Why is the Eucharist important in our lives?
The Eucharist is Jesus’s way of helping his disciples to make the sacrifice of the Cross-their own. Literally speaking, the body that hanged on the cross on Good Friday was not that of the disciples. It was not their blood, it was not my blood, it was not your blood that was poured out on Calvary. So how does that Sacrifice become yours and mine? How does Jesus’ Sacrifice take away my sin? How does it take away your sin? In John 6: 56 Jesus told his disciples “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will live in me and I will live in him.” So, by giving them the Eucharist, Jesus was joining his body and those of the disciples together and mixing his blood with those of the disciples so that as he hanged on the Cross, it would also be the disciples hanging on the cross sacramentally; as he poured out his blood, it will be the disciples pouring out their blood. It is in this sacramental way that Jesus’ death on the cross becomes my death and your death, and his resurrection, becomes my resurrection and your resurrection.
Beloved, don’t you think we should clap for Jesus? Don’t you think he is a wonderful Savior? Thank you for clapping for Jesus? But is that all Jesus wants from us? No! Jesus tells us in the gospel that he has given us an example because he wants us to live like him. If we eat his body and drink his blood and he lives in us and we live in him, and we are one, then it is logical that we live like him. It is contradictory to receive the Eucharist and not want to live like Jesus. That is why he gave us a new commandment. He did not say it is a suggestion. No! It is a commandment: Love one another, the way I have loved you. What I have done for you, you must do for one another. This is the lesson he used the symbol of the washing of feet to communicate. Jesus calls on us not just to celebrate the Eucharist but to live an Eucharistic Live. Our gospel today teaches us that Living a Eucharistic life demands not only the ability to say I love you; but also the humility to say I am sorry. There are two things in the gospel that I would like to bring out for our reflection tonight:
1. Jesus washed the feet of Judas: Jesus knew his enemy, but did not treat him like an enemy. He knew Judas wanted him dead; yet he still washed his feet. What does Jesus want to teach us by this? He teaches us that we cannot control what people will do, but we can control our reaction to what people do. Yes, we also know people who have hurt us, are we going to pay them back or are we going to wash their feet? Tonight we will wash each other's feet. If all your family and friends were here tonight, whose feet would you rather not wash and who will you not allow to wash your feet?
2. Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet: At times, in our Christian life, the challenge is not so much about how you give to others, especially if giving to others makes you happy and you receive praises for what you do. Rather, what seems very difficult, at times, is allowing others to serve you or receiving help from others. Beloved, at times, the best way to show love is to receive forgiveness. Later on in the passion story, Peter is going to need forgiveness and Jesus was preparing him for that. He was teaching Peter that the Christian life is not only about your ability to give love, but also about your humility to receive forgiveness. Beloved in Christ, we become lights of the world not only with our ability to say I love you but also with our humility to say I am sorry.