Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Holy Thursday

Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper
Catechism Links[1]
CCC 1337-1344: The institution of the Eucharist
CCC 1359-1361: Eucharist as thanksgiving
CCC 610, 1362-1372, 1382,1436: Eucharist as sacrifice
CCC 1373-1381: The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist
CCC 1384-1401, 2837: Holy Communion
CCC 1402-1405: The Eucharist as the pledge of glory
CCC 611, 1366: Institution of the priesthood at the Last Supper

“Washing of the Feet” by Giovane Palma, 1591-92
(Mass of the Lord’s Supper)
Commentary on Ex 12:1-8, 11-14
This passage from Exodus established the Feast of Passover for Jewish people. It is the feast Jesus was celebrating in the upper room, at the "Last Supper."  We are told of the tenth and final plague to strike Egypt, as God struck down the first born and caused the Pharaoh to release the people from bondage. The image of the “Lamb” is reminiscent of the “Lamb of God,” who is also without blemish, whose blood consecrates those who believe in him. The passage concludes with the ritual invocation establishing the sacrifice and the pilgrimage (“…to the LORD” [a reference to the Temple in Jerusalem where, in the Ark of the Covenant, the Lord’s presence was established]).
CCC: Ex 12:3-14 608
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18
R. (cf. 1 Cor 10:16) Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
This psalm of thanksgiving gives us the image of the “Cup of Blessing” used in the Passover celebration. It is this cup that the Lord first blessed and used as our communion cup. The psalm rejoices in God’s saving works, releasing the people from their bondage.
CCC: Ps 116:12 224; Ps 116:13 1330; Ps 116:17 1330
Commentary on 1 Cor 11:23-26
St. Paul gives us the earliest written account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper.  This account is used by many Protestant denominations to define their understanding of this event as symbolic rather than efficacious, that is, they believe the Lord’s actions did not transubstantiate the bread and wine, but that the action was simply a “remembrance.”   The Church looks at the whole body of scripture, especially St. John’s Gospel, and understands the Sacrament as the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood.
CCC: 1 Cor 11:23-26 1339; 1 Cor 11:23 610, 1366; 1 Cor 11:24-25 1356; 1 Cor 11:24 1328, 1329; 1 Cor 11:25 611, 613;  1 Cor 11:26 671, 1076, 1130, 1344, 1393,2772, 2776
Gospel: John 13:1-15
Commentary on Jn 13:1-15
We find in St. John’s Gospel the Lord’s great act of humility as he washes the feet of his disciples, something that would have been done by a slave. The very act itself has an air of finality about it as St. John says: “Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father." In another sense it also carries with it the image of Baptism as well as the humiliating death the Lord was about to suffer.
While other parts of sacred scripture enjoin the faithful to be humble in service to one another, this action by Jesus most graphically illustrates the ideal. St. Peter, no doubt, expresses the discomfort and sense of embarrassment felt by his brother disciples as he objects to the Lord so debasing himself before them – his students. The Lord explains has lesson verbally in response to St. Peter’s objections and in doing so sets the tone for all future discipleship: “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do."
CCC: Jn 13:1-17 1337; Jn 13:1 557, 609, 616, 622, 730,1085, 1380, 1524, 1823, 2843; Jn 13:3 423; Jn 13:12-16 1694; Jn 13:12-15 1269; Jn 13:13 447; Jn 13:15 520
Do you realize what I have done for you?” These words hang in the air as the disciples look on in embarrassed silence.  Washing the feet of guests was, in the time of Jesus, the duty of a house slave.  It was not, under any circumstance the disciples would have encountered, the job of their rabbi, their teacher, the one they believed was the Messiah!  It is a sign of their total commitment to Jesus that only Peter objected.
Do you realize what I have done for you?”  When Jesus wrapped that towel around himself and got down on his knees, he stooped to serve not just those seated at the table, he stooped to serve everyone ever born of woman.  His descent to his knees, bowl and towel in hand, was a descent from the highest heaven to the lowliest station on earth.  Everyone since has been offered this humble service.
Do you realize what I have done for you?” It was Mary who had but recently washed his feet with her tears and perfumed them with oil, drying them with her hair.  She did this service to Jesus as if preparing him for burial.  In Jesus’ turn, he washes our feet that they might be clean entering the heavenly kingdom so that we might enjoy eternal life with him.
Do you realize what I have done for you?”  Even the one with thirty pieces of silver in his belt had his feet washed clean by the one who was pure as the driven snow.  In this washing, Jesus offers to wash us all clean of sin, taking upon himself all that burdens us, all that makes us unclean.  On this Feast of the Lord’s Supper, upon which we celebrate the gift of the Lord’s Body and Blood, we realize that he continues to wash us, freeing us from the fetters of sin and death and opening the gates of heaven for us.

[1] Catechism links are taken from the Homiletic Directory, Published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 29 June 2014
[2] The picture used is “Washing of the Feet” by Giovane Palma, 1591-92

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