HOLY THURSDAY-YEAR –B
CELEBRATION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER
(THE LAST SUPPER OF JESUS)
I Reading: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14: Instruction concerning the Passover meal.
II Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26: Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the death of the Lord.
Gospel: John 13: 1-15: Now he showed how perfect his love was.
We have gathered this evening not as individuals but as a family to commemorate the Last Supper or the Last Meal of our Lord Jesus on earth before on the night he suffered. He is in our midst and we are around Him, as the twelve disciples were with Him. Jesus is already in our midst though we cannot see him with our eyes of flesh, he welcomes us at this very moment, repeating to us the very words he spoke to his twelve disciples on that occasion. “I have eagerly desired to eat this meal with you” (Lk 22:15).
On this Holy Thursday, Jesus instituted the two sacraments: The sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of the Holy Priesthood.
We are lucky to have the priests of the Lord to celebrate the Eucharist in this church daily and all over the world to eat and drink the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ.
The readings of today speak to us about the three groups of people:
1. The Jewish family: God gave instructions to the people of Israel through Moses to celebrate the most important event of the year: The Passover Meal. That meal was meant to remind them how their ancestors had been delivered from the slavery of Pharaoh in Egypt. In celebrating the Passover, the eyes of the Jews were set on their past: they praised God for the love he had shown to their ancestors.
2. The group of the twelve disciples around Jesus: The Gospel speaks of a new family created by Jesus and his twelve disciples; who represent the new Israel and new people of God.
At this time Jesus was giving to the Passover Meal a new meaning. At his Last Supper, Jesus celebrated a new deliverance, one he would carry out the next day on the cross: the deliverance not just of one nation but of all mankind from the slavery of the devil; he would obtain it at the price of his own blood. Jesus anticipated the deliverance, so to say: he took bread, and by his power, he changed it into his Body. He took a cup filled with wine and changed the wine into his own Blood. He gave his Body and Blood to his disciples for them to eat and drink. He said to them “Do this in memory of me.”
Jesus gave his twelve disciples the power to do what he had just done. They were to do it time and again till he would again, that is, until the end of time.
The word Eucharist means thanksgiving. Jesus instituted it both to carry out the deliverance of people from sin and to thank his Father for that same deliverance.
Jesus performed three main actions at his Last Supper:
i) He washed the feet of his twelve disciples.
ii) He instituted the Holy Eucharist.
iii) He gave to his disciples the new commandment of love.
These three actions were meant to go inseparably together: service and love for the brothers and sisters in the community were to precede and to follow the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
3. The Christian community at Corinth: In the second reading of today Paul rebukes his Christians of Corinth in strong terms, because they did not celebrate the Eucharist the way the Lord had commanded. There was something very wrong with their mutual love and lack of concern for the poorer members of the community which was very harmful. That moved Paul to warn them in the strongest terms: if they went on celebrating the Eucharist without mutual love, their community was in very serious danger (1Cor 11:30).
The Eucharist is essential to the life of the Christian community; without it, the Church would cease to exist. The readings of today provide precious guidance for the Christian community to celebrate the Eucharist the way Jesus wanted it celebrated.
When celebrating the Eucharist we should keep our mind fixed on the past, which is on the Last Supper and on Jesus’ Passion, remembering that he saved us from the slavery of sin at the cost of his life. We should also keep in mind in the present that Jesus goes on with his work of setting us free of sin each time we celebrate the Eucharist. We should also keep our thought fixed into the future, waiting for his final coming when he will set us completely free, free for ever.
Christ wants us to celebrate the Eucharist not individually but as a family (Ex 12:11). On this day we must ask God to give us priests from our children in the believing Christian families to carry out the mission of Jesus on this earth and to establish the kingdom of God in the world especially in this parish church.
The Demonstration of Royal Service, John 13: 1-17
The disciples had been arguing over who would hold the leading positions in the government Jesus was about to set up (cp. Lk 22:24; Mk 10:35-45, esp.v.41). They were caught up in the ambition for position, power and authority. How the heart of Jesus must have been cut! He had so little time left for them to learn that the way to glory is through service and not through position and authority. it was this that led Jesus to wash the disciples’ feet and to demonstrate what true royalty is: serving others.
1. In the Upper Room right before the Passover (v.1)
2. The impetus for royal service (v.1-2)
a. Knowing His time, His hour had come
b. Loving His followers to the very end
c. Knowing His enemies
3. The extreme demonstration of royal service (v.3-5)
a. Knowing His mission
b. Laying aside His outer clothing
c. Washing the disciples’ feet
4. The prerequisite for royal service: washing and cleaning (v.6-11)
a. Washing is misunderstood
b. Washing has a deeper meaning: spiritual cleansing
c. Washing is requested
d. Washing is thorough and permanent
e. Washing is not automatic nor by association
5. The meaning of royal service (v.12-14)
a. To serve Jesus as Teacher and Lord
b. To serve other believers royally, sacrificially, leading them to be washed and cleansed
6. The reasons for royal service (v.15-17)
a. Because of Jesus’ example
b. Because believers are not as great as the Lord
c. Because of resulting joy