John 1:14

March 27 Holy Thursday Homily: Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Filed under: Blog — admin at 10:35 pm on Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Holy Thursday 2013

On the beginning of this Holy Triduum, we recall the Institution of the Lord’s supper, the Gift of the Holy Eucharist and the gift of the priesthood. These propose great mysteries to the world even until today. The Apostle’s had witnessed Jesus multiply the loaves and fish, heal the sick, expel demons and preach the love and mercy of the Father. With all that knowledge and experience, they were still unable to appreciate realize the life changing and even world changing events they were chosen to share in. It will take a lifetime for them to realize all that God offers to his people.


St. John tells us that at Supper on the night before he died, Jesus took off his cloak, wrapped a towel around his waist and began to wash his disciples’ feet. As we heard on Palm Sunday, Jesus takes the form of a slave, born in human likeness to make beautiful in grace what we have made ugly by sin. None of the disciples try to stop that action, except for Simon Peter. He makes a bold pronouncement, “Lord, you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus then tells Peter, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance from me.” Peter then overreacts in his typical way and says, “Well then, wash me Lord from head to toe!”


This interchange between Jesus and Peter makes me question, “Which action is more humbling, to serve or to be served? The simple message of the Gospel is that Jesus tells us that if we are his followers, we must be servants to others. But in order to be servants, we must first let Jesus serve us. Jesus serves us first.

We can at times find it embarrassing to be served. When we were little, our moms were always tidying us up, wiping chocolate off our faces with their own saliva. When we reach old age, we don’t like being wheeled around or even helped at meals. Sometimes, it is hard to find people to participate in this ritual foot-washing because people find it embarrassing. It could be because they have ugly feet, or simply because something that they consider this so personal they want to do it for ourselves.


It is sad that even today we get uncomfortable from time to time, even in explaining the Sacrifice of the Mass to others. St. Paul tells us that when we eat the Bread which is His Body and drink from the cup which holds His Blood, we proclaim the death of the Lord.  Yet there are times when we tell people we took Bread and Wine at Mass. We take Peter’s place, “Lord you cannot be so close with me as to give me your Body and Blood, it is only just bread and wine.”


We can even go so far as to question the need for priests. “Lord, that man cannot forgive my sins. He cannot tell me how to live my life using Your words. I know the meaning as much as he does. He cannot give me your Body and Blood. I would sooner take it from his hand than let him lay it mine like I am unable to feed myself.” We want to be independent to the end, while Jesus shows us in this simple act that he desires that WE depend on him for our life, our family, and ultimately our salvation.

Faith means putting our lives firmly into the hands of God and letting him cleanse us, heal us, and love us. Today people are made fun of for practicing a life of faith. They are seen as odd people who believe odd things that run contrary to how most of the people in the world say things ought to be done. They say we see things that really do not exist. Actually, it would be more accurate that we are able to see things that they are afraid to admit, namely that there is a God who has seen our sorrow and pain and gives us a path to freedom through the gift of His Son, born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus his Son then completes the gift of the Father, by giving us his own Body and Blood and establishing in his Body the Church the means of sharing in His sacramental inheritance now through the Ordained Priesthood, as we await his return.

It is in this humble act of allowing God to wash our feet, to see us as we are, covered with the dirt and grime of sin and selfishness, that God can truly show us who He is. We cannot save ourselves and we cannot cleanse ourselves and we cannot feed ourselves. Only the One who can look into the depth of our souls is able to all of that, because he loves us to the end.

Tonight the Lord washes our feet. It is not done to embarrass us. It is done to show us that there is not one part of our lives that the Lord does not want to touch.  We too are now sharers in this great mystery through Baptism. It will take us a lifetime to search all the gifts we have received. May the Lord’s Body and Blood refresh our bodies and souls, and help us to make use of the priceless riches we celebrate and remember tonight.


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