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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
 
Homilies/Reflections

He loved them
By FR JULIUS OLAITAN

March 29, 2018

 

HOLY THURSDAY

 

He loved them to the end

Dear friends in Christ, today Holy Thursday, we celebrate three major events in one. We celebrate the priesthood—before Jesus went up to the Cross, he instituted this sacrament giving the Apostles a share in his priesthood, that they may become the priests of the new covenant—a priesthood in the manner of that of Melkisedek. It is a day of prayer for priests, ask the Lord to keep them faithful to their vows and that they may genuinely serve the people of God in their care, after the mind of Christ. Today we also celebrate the Institution of the Holy Eucharist—Jesus at the Last Supper changed the bread into his Body and wine into his Blood asking the disciples to do that in memorial of Him. From then on, His body and Blood have become the food for our journey. So also today, we celebrate the institution of Service as the hallmark of Christian living—the symbolism of this is found in the washing of the feet of his disciples at the dinner. A sign that he who wants to be the leader must also be the servant of all.

 

First Reading (Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14) The law on the Passover meal was established for an annual celebration and memorial of the most significant event  in the history of the Jews—God by a mighty arm rescued and liberated the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. This meal in which the blood of the slain animal was used to mark the doorposts of the Jews, meant that the angel that brought about the death of the first born sons in Egypt, passed over the homes of the Jews. The unleavened bread depicts the haste with which they left Egypt. The bitter herbs is a reminder of the bitterness of slavey; the girded loins, the sandals on their feet and staff in hand, is a mark of the readiness to set-out.

 

In the Second Reading (1Corinthians 11:23-26) Paul passes on an instruction on the celebration and significance of the Eucharist. Jesus gives the Passover meal a new meaning in the Last Supper. The bread symbolises his body and the wine his blood. By this, Jesus invites the partakers to also enter into his ‘passover.’ Paul added a note, “For as often as you eat this bread and the chalice, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 

 

In today’s Gospel (John 13:1-15) Jesus was passing over through death from this world to the Father. John tells us that, “When he knew that his hour had come…having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” Every act of Jesus is borne out of genuine love to save the world. In washing the feet of his disciples he makes his death, a service. It is the ultimate expression of his love for his disciples. The disciples therefore must accept this service and replicate it in their own lives. By his death Jesus brings an unprecedented freedom to all, from the slavery to sin and the law, to the freedom and salvation of the children of God. More than the first Passover, this new one takes the followers to their true homeland in heaven since the world is itself a pilgrim land. The elaborate celebration of the Passover yearly by the Jews, which included the explanation given by the head of the family helps each one in every age to be immersed into the mystery and become a partaker as in the original event. Just as the Passover is to be celebrated as a memorial, Jesus asks his disciples to celebrate the Eucharist in his memory. The Eucharist is therefore, our Passover Meal. We must understand clearly that the mass is not just a ritual, it is a sacrament and a symbolic re-enactment of the sacrifice of our redemption. It is a celebration of the life-giving sacrifice,  of the self-giving love of Jesus. It must therefore be our passover from selfishness to self-giving and the service of others. The Eucharist is our sacrament of love—the love of God for us and our participation in that love, by loving God and our neighbour. Jesus says, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

Pray for your priests. May they remain faithful to their vocations to the end. Amen.

 

Let us pray: My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. Come into my heart and fill me with your life. Bless your priests and keep them faithful to you and their mission. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


 
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