Summary: This homily is to demonstrate that by His actions on Holy Thursday at the Last Supper, he shows the intimate connection of personal service and love in the community to divine worship at the Euchrist.
HOLY THURSDAY “DO THIS TO COMMEMORATE ME”
1. "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end" (Jn 13:1).
These words from the Gospel text just proclaimed clearly underline the climate of Holy Thursday. They give us an insight into what Christ felt "on the night when he was betrayed" (1 Cor 11:23), and they inspire us to take part with intense and personal
gratitude in the solemn rite we are celebrating.
This evening we begin Christ’s Passover, constituting the tragic and concluding moment, long prepared and awaited, of the earthly existence of the Word of God. Jesus came among us not to be served but to serve, and he took upon himself the vicissitudes and hopes of the people of all time. Mystically anticipating the sacrifice of the Cross, in the Upper Room it was
his wish to stay with us.
He had said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in the midst.”
He entrusted to the Apostles and their successors the
mission and power to perpetuate the living and efficacious memory of that event in the Eucharist, Eucharist is an ancient term for the service of Holy Communion: it means “giving thanks.”
This celebration mystically involves all of us. We shaall learn from the one "Master and Lord" to "stretch out our hands" and go to
wherever we are called to fulfill the will of our heavenly Father.
2. "Do this in memory of me" (1 Cor 11:24,25). With this command, which commits us to repeating his gesture, Jesus concludes the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
As he finishes the washing of the feet of His disciples, he invites us to imitate him: "For I have given you an example, that you also should do
as I have done to you" (Jn 13:15).
In this way he establishes an intimate connection between the Eucharist, the sacrament of his sacrificial gift, and the commandment of love which commits us to welcoming and serving our brothers and sisters.
His act of washing the feet of his friends as they gathered around the table on Holy Thursday was the act of a servant. He is by his action telling us how we should serve and honor one another.
This does not mean that we need to have a rite of foot washing. That is not the purpose of his action. The purpose of his action is to tell us that the student is not better than the teacher. We are to follow his example by being of service. There are many ill, many elderly in this world who need a friend to come and do a servant’s work. He has set the example of humble service.
Partaking of the Lord’s table cannot be separated from the duty of loving our neighbour. Each time we partake in the Eucharist, we too say our "Amen" before the Body and Blood of the Lord.
In doing so we commit ourselves to doing what Christ has done, to "washing the feet" of our brothers and sisters, becoming a real and visible image of the One who "emptied himself, taking the form of a servant" (Phil 2:7).
Love is the most precious legacy which Christ leaves to those whom he calls to follow him. It is his love, shared by his disciples, which this evening is offered to all humanity.
3. "Any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself" (1 Cor 11:29). The Holy Communion is a great gift, but also a great responsibility for those who receive it. Before Peter, who is reluctant to have his feet washed,
Jesus insists on the need to be unsullied in order to take part in the sacrificial banquet of the Eucharist.
The Church’s tradition has always stressed the link between the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The sacrament of penance where in we “confess our sins to one another” and ask the assurance of the Father’s love and forgiveness is not often practiced any more. But we are advised by our tradition that if a person has a guilty conscience, and remains troubled in mind after prayer, that he should go to his minister and pour out his grief and receive assurance of forgiveness that is revealed in the sacrifice of Christ and is written in the SCripture.
The Sacrament of Penance restores to the baptized the divine grace lost by sin, and disposes them to receive the Holy Communion in a worthy fashion. Furthermore, in the direct conversation which its ordinary celebration involves, the Sacrament can meet the
need for personal communication, which has become more and more difficult nowadays as a result of the frenetic pace of our technological society.
Through his enlightened and patient action, the minister can bring the penitent Christian into that profound communion with Christ which the Sacrament restores and which the Eucharist brings to full fruition. Salvation is personal. We are warned by Scripture not to approach Communion if we have anger toward a brother or sister, or have not made recompense as much as possible for some wrong we have done.