Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we begin the three days of the holiest moments in the whole liturgical year, the Easter Triduum, celebrating the centrepiece of our faith, beginning with today when we celebrate the occasion of Maundy or Holy Thursday, the Last Supper which the Lord Jesus had with His disciples on the night before He suffered and died, and then tomorrow’s Good Friday, commemorating the moment when Jesus died on the cross, and finally the Easter Vigil celebrations, on the triumph of the Risen Christ over sin and death.
Today therefore we begin that very solemn occasion, the time when the Lord began His Passion, the time of the fulfilment of His earthly ministry, the time when He completed the journey He started, in bringing all the people of God back to the embrace of God, and in declaring to all of them the Good News of God. On this day we also mark the time when He revealed to all the ultimate gift which He had given to all of us mankind, that is the gift of none other than that of His own Body and Blood, the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God, the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of our sins.
For the Lord had His Last Supper with His disciples as we celebrate the occasion this evening, in the imitation and indeed perfection of the original Jewish Passover feast, which was celebrated year after year as the most important of all feasts and festivals, because on that day, God showed forth His might and power, in order to bring His enslaved people out of the tyranny and slavery in Egypt. Even though they had been marked for death by the Pharaoh, but God provided for them salvation beyond even their despair.
God made them to keep a young lamb without blemish, to be slaughtered on the time He had appointed to them. That was the very first Passover, the time when the Israelites slaughtered the lamb and used its blood to mark their houses, by putting it on their houses, on the lintels and doorposts, so that when God sent His Angels to scour through the whole Egypt, to kill the firstborn sons of Egypt, the sons of Israel would not be harmed and thus would be ‘passed over’.
And thus, by His grace and by His power, God had liberated His people through the pouring of the blood of the lamb of sacrifice, the unblemished lamb which was slaughtered, and consumed by the Israelites together with the unleavened bread, during the very first Passover. Ever since, the people of Israel continued to remember that important event, by repeating it again and again, year after year, to remember the moment that God brought them all to freedom.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, what the Lord Jesus had done on that day, the Last Supper which He had with His disciples was also a Passover meal, the new Passover which Jesus instituted that very night and which today we remember, as well as at every time we celebrate the Holy Mass. That is because, just as the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites and made them to suffer, all of us mankind had also been enslaved by sin, and sin is what the Lord was liberating us all from, as He went forth through His Passion and ultimately, death.
And this time, God also brought forth a lamb of sacrifice, a worthy lamb, and a spotless and unblemished lamb. However, unlike any earthly lambs, which blood could do nothing more than temporary respite and absolution from sin, which the priests ever since the time of Aaron and his sons would need to continue to offer and sacrifice again and again, on that day, that night of the Last Supper, Christ Himself is the Lamb, the Lamb of God.
Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God, as we always remember saying during the Holy Mass, as the One Who takes away the sins of the world. He gave His disciples His own Body, through the bread He blessed and broke, and then His own Blood, by the blessed wine He had passed to them. And God therefore had redeemed and liberated His people by the offering of the Blood of the Lamb, which we all have received and shared, and by that mark of our faith, we have been ‘passed over’ from our fate of eternal death and damnation.
We should have perished and be damned for eternity for our sins, for all the wickedness that we have committed in life. And yet, because we have our Lord and Master Who did not give up on us, and Who in fact willingly sought to forgive us and redeem us from our sins, we have a new hope and the opportunity of having a new life in Him, abandoning our past ways of sin and embracing a new life blessed and filled with the grace of God.
Jesus is our High Priest, Who had come upon us, offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the oblation and for the forgiveness of our sins. On all those who are willing to accept God’s forgiveness, He has offered all of them, the direct pathway to salvation. He has, once and for all, by offering His Body and Blood as the Lamb of sacrifice on the cross at Calvary, redeemed the whole race of mankind from the taints of their sins.
And what is important is that, through His disciples, Jesus our Lord had passed on and continued that sacred priesthood by what He had done and commanded them to do on the night of that Last Supper. Jesus washed the hands of His disciples, and told them all to do the same. And He also, while breaking up the bread and passing the wine around, commanded the disciples to do the same as what He had done at that time.
In essence, at that occasion, Jesus instituted the priesthood of the Church, which He Himself had established, and gave them the authority to be in persona Christi, that is in the person of Christ, acting on His behalf as the priests celebrate the Holy Mass, transforming the offering of bread and wine, into the real and true Holy Presence of our God, Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
Therefore, today we remember our priests and bishops, and all those who have consecrated themselves to God through holy ordination. We pray for all of them, and ask God to strengthen each and every one of them, so that through the difficult challenges and troubles that often await them on their path, they may continue to persevere and remain strong amidst all of those obstacles. Let us pray that they may continue to dedicate and serve the people of God, in the same manner as Christ had loved and served His people.
Let us all also remember the sacrifice by which Christ had lovingly protected ourselves and brought us all from the brink of annihilation into a new hope, by establishing a new Covenant with us sealed with none other than His Most Precious Blood. Let us all remember that we were once enslaved to sin, and by God’s grace we have been given the forgiveness and reconciliation which many of us are seeking for.
Let us ponder and reflect on all these, as we progress through our celebration of the Easter Triduum occasions, and let us all prepare our hearts and minds, to remember the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself willingly as our sacrifice instead of ourselves, that all of us may live. May the Lord be with us all, now and forevermore. Amen.