Thursday, 14 April 2022 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this night celebration of the Holy Mass, the whole Church celebrates together the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the commemoration of the Last Supper during which time the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist, and told His disciples to commemorate it in His memory. This night is very important as it was the moment when the Lord began the journey of His Passion that ended only on the glorious Resurrection at Easter. Hence, that is why we celebrate them together in the Easter Triduum beginning tonight right up to Easter Sunday of Our Lord’s Resurrection.

This night we remember that night when the Lord had His Last Supper with His disciples when He broke the bread with them and shared to them the bread which He spoke to them is His Body, given to them freely, and also shared the cup of wine that He had blessed, the wine that has turned into His Most Precious Blood. It was at the Last Supper that the Lord revealed what He was going to do in order to bring about the salvation of the whole world, by His Passion, His suffering, death on the Cross and resurrection, through which He would lead us into the new life of true happiness and joy.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account from the Book of Exodus recounting to us of the pivotal moment in the history of the salvation of God’s people, when God was finally about to lead His people, the Israelites out from their enslavement in Egypt. Up to that moment, God had sent nine great plagues against Egypt and its people because of their stubborn refusal to let the Israelites go free after enslaving them and treating them badly without dignity and respect for them, after exploiting them and trying to eliminate them as a people and nation. The Lord was about to bring one last, greatest plague that would free the people at last.

And that plague was the death of all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, every one of them in the land of Egypt except for the ones whom God would mark and then ‘passed over’. Thus, God gave Moses and Aaron the very specific instructions on what they were to do, in preparing for the very first Passover, the original Passover in the land of Egypt. In particular, the people of Israel were told to prepare and set aside a young, unblemished lamb for sacrifice and to be consumed together as family or group of families together on the night of the Passover.

How is this significant for us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is significant because what happened at the original Passover is exactly what was taking place at the Last Supper as well. The Lord was telling His disciples with the message when He asked them to get ready the place for the Last Supper with the words asking where they would have their Passover meal. Therefore, the Last Supper was indeed the same Passover that the descendants of the Israelites have always commemorated every year. However, we should notice that there is something very different in the Last Supper versus the usual Passover celebrations.

And that is the lack of the centrepiece of the Passover meal, which is the sacrificed lamb. Why is that so? That is because Christ Himself, is the Lamb Who was to be sacrificed and offered to God, and He is the centrepiece of the Passover at the Last Supper, representing the new Passover and the New Covenant that He was to establish with everything that took place between the Last Supper and His death on the Cross. For first of all, we must understand that the Last Supper did not actually end on the Last Supper on that night itself, but in fact continued on right up to the last moments of the Lord on the Cross.

Remember that Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper? The bread that He blessed and broke, and shared with the disciples had turned into His own Most Precious Body, not just in symbolic manner but in real substance and nature, and while it may still appear as bread and taste as bread, but that bread has fundamentally been changed into the very essence of God and His Presence, His own Body, to be broken, shared and given up to us. The same happened to the wine as well, which had become the Most Precious Blood, in all substance and nature, shed and poured down to us to share and drink.

Christ, Our Lord and Saviour is the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrificial Lamb Who had allowed Himself to be led to the slaughter, to be the One to both offer and complete the worthy sacrifice for the sake of all of us. That just as how the ancient Passover led the people of God free from their slavery in Egypt, thus, through Christ’s new Passover, the Holy Eucharist, He is bringing all of us mankind, His beloved children, to the freedom from the slavery under sin and death. The Lord is bringing us into the joy of eternal life that He has always intended for us to enjoy, which had been denied to us due to our own disobedience and sins.

And by His Blood we have been marked much as the people of Israel had been saved by the mark of the lamb’s blood on the lintels of their doors, marking them as the houses of the righteous that the Angels of Death passed over and did not harm. That is yet another way how the ancient Passover and the New Passover are so symbolically similar to each other. Therefore, by the Blood of the Lamb of God, we have been marked as His own, and as those who are deserving of life and not death and destruction. Just as the Israelites had been passed over from death, we too share in the new life that God has brought us.

Then, why did I mention that the Last Supper was not yet completed on that very night? That is because if we pay attention carefully, the Last Supper actually took place before the date of the actual Passover, which happened on the day of the Sabbath, after the Lord’s death on Good Friday. If we see the chronology of events carefully, we will see that the day that the Lord died on the Cross marked the day before the Passover day, the day when the Passover lamb was slaughtered and sacrificed, had its blood poured so that on the day of the Passover, the blood of the lamb saved the people from destruction and death.

Hence, in the same manner, by the Blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, poured forth from His Cross, as He laid dying between the heaven and the earth, the slain Lamb of God, all of us are marked for salvation and eternal life, all of us who believe in Him and put our faith in Him receive from Him the assurance of true joy and happiness with Him and through Him. The offering and sacrifice begun on the Last Supper is completed on the Cross at Good Friday, which was marked by the Lord’s own words on the Cross, ‘It is accomplished.’

That is why, at every celebration of the Holy Mass, we are actually commemorating again the very same sacrifice and offering made by the Lord on His Cross at Calvary. At every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the priests, by the faculty and authority granted to them by the Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, received by them through the Apostles, those same Apostles to whom the Lord entrusted the Eucharist, changed the bread and wine into the essence, substance and reality of Our Lord’s own Most Precious Body and Blood. They may still retain the appearance of bread and wine, but in truth, they are no longer just bread and wine.

And that is the centre of our faith, brothers and sisters in Christ, that in the doctrine of Transubstantiation, we believe that in the Holy Mass, the bread and wine has been completely transformed barring their appearance, into the Most Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord Himself, the Holy Eucharist. That is why today we celebrate the Institution of this great Sacrament, by which God made Himself available for us. And we remember Him, our Bread of Life, Who have shared with us this same Precious Body and Blood, that as He Himself said, that whoever partake of Him, shall have eternal life.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we remember the Last Supper in today’s Mass, we also prepare ourselves for the events surrounding Our Lord’s crucifixion and death which we shall celebrate tomorrow on Good Friday. The two events cannot be separated from each other, and tonight, as we enter into the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we should really appreciate the importance of the Eucharist even more if we have not yet done so, realising that the Eucharist is the pinnacle of our worship and also the same sacrifice of Our Lord that began on the Last Supper and continuing all throughout the events of Good Friday up to the Lord’s death on the Cross. On the Altar, are the same Precious Body and Blood of the Lamb of God, that had been slain and sacrificed for us.

These were all the things that God had done for us, with such love that He willingly braved even the worst of sufferings and death for our sake. And as we heard in the Gospel passage today, He has shown us true humility of humbling Himself and wearing the clothes of a slave, to wipe the feet of His own disciples, an act performed only by slaves. He made Himself like a slave, just like how He has humbly accepted His Cross, to be treated worse that a slave, as a criminal and to be humiliated and rejected, all so that by His obedience, He may save us from our sins and from the certainty of death.

He told His disciples to do the same as He had done, to love one another and to serve each other with love to the best of our abilities. This is our Christian calling, to be the true disciples of Christ in all things, but in particular in reaching out to our fellow brothers and sisters with genuine love and care, in putting others and their needs before ourselves and our selfish desires. We are all called to remember this, how the Lord has done all for our sake and how He even humbled Himself for our sake. He died for us out of love and to save us from the depth of darkness. Are we able to emulate that same love in us too, brothers and sisters?

As we enter into this celebration of the Easter Triduum, let us all immerse ourselves deeply in the events surrounding Our Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death, and strive to love Him ever more and to live our lives ever more in accordance with His truth. Let us focus our attention on Him and spend good and precious quality time with Him as we commemorate these important events in the history of our salvation. May God, our most loving Lord and Creator, be with us in our journey of faith and help us to make our Easter Triduum journey a most blessed and fruitful one. Amen.

Thursday, 14 April 2022 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 13 : 1-15

At that time, it was before the feast of the Passover. Jesus realised that His hour had come, to pass from this world to the Father; and as He had loved those who were His own in the world, He would love them with perfect love.

They were at supper, and the devil had already put into the mind of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Him. Jesus knew that the Father had entrusted all things to Him, and as He had come from God, He was going to God. So He got up from the table, removed His garment, and taking a towel, wrapped it around His waist. Then He poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel He was wearing.

When He came to Simon Peter, Simon asked Him, “Why, Lord, do You want to wash my feet?” Jesus said, “What I am doing you cannot understand now, but afterwards you will understand it.” Peter replied, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you can have no part with Me.”

Then Simon Peter said, “Lord, wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus replied, “Whoever has taken a bath does not need to wash (except the feet), for he is clean all over. You are clean, though not all of you.” Jesus knew who was to betray Him; because of this He said, “Not all of you are clean.”

When Jesus had finished washing their feet, He put on His garment again, went back to the table, and said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call Me Master and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also must wash one another’s feet. I have just given you an example, that as I have done, you also may do.”

Thursday, 14 April 2022 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 11 : 23-26

This is the tradition of the Lord that I received and that in my turn I have handed on to you; the Lord Jesus, on the night that He was delivered up, took bread and, after giving thanks, broke it, saying, “This is My Body which is broken for you; do this in memory of Me.”

In the same manner, taking the cup after the supper, He said, “This cup is the new Covenant in My Blood. Whenever you drink it, do it in memory of Me.” So, then, whenever you eat of this bread and drink from this cup, you are proclaiming the death of the Lord until He comes.

Thursday, 14 April 2022 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 115 : 12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18

How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to Me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of the Lord.

It is painful to the Lord to see the death of His faithful. Truly Your servant, Your handmaid’s Son. You have freed Me from My bonds.

I will offer You a thanksgiving sacrifice; I will call on the Name of the Lord. I will carry out My vows to the Lord in the presence of His people.

Thursday, 14 April 2022 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 12 : 1-8, 11-14

YHVH spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt and said, “This month is to be the beginning of all months, the first month of your year. Speak to the community of Israel and say to them : On the tenth day of this month let each family take a lamb, a lamb for each house. If the family is too small for a lamb, they must join with a neighbour, the nearest to the house, according to the number of persons, and to what each one can eat.”

“You will select a perfect lamb without blemish, a male born during the present year, taken from the sheep or goats. Then you will keep it until the fourteenth day of the month. On that evening all the people will slaughter their lambs and take some of the blood to put on the doorposts and on top of the doorframes of the houses where you eat. That night you will eat the flesh roasted at the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.”

“And this is how you will eat : with a belt round your waist, sandals on your feet and a staff in your hand. You shall eat hastily for it is a Passover in honour of YHVH. On that night I shall go through Egypt and strike every firstborn in Egypt, men and animals; and I will even bring judgment on all of the gods of Egypt, I, YHVH! The blood on your houses will be the sign that you are there. I will see the blood and pass over you; and you will escape the mortal plague when I strike Egypt.”

“This is a day you are to remember and celebrate in honour of YHVH. It is to be kept as a festival day for all generations forever.”

Thursday, 14 April 2022 : Holy Thursday, Chrism Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we celebrate and gather together in the occasion of this Chrism Mass, all of us are called to remember the gift of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit that He has given to each and every one of us through the laying of hands and through anointing with the sacred oils which are going to be blessed today for the various uses they have in the many aspects of the Church and its liturgies. Holy oils have been used for a very long time and in our Christian usage, they have a lot of symbolic and real meaning and uses, especially to mark that one is holy and as belonging to God.

This Chrism Mass is an annual event during which time the bishop of the diocese, the local ordinary gathers together with all the members of the clergy, the priests and all those who have been consecrated to God as His servants. In this Mass not only that the holy oils are blessed, but the priests together with the bishop also renew their priestly vows and promises, as a reminder that they have been called and set aside, consecrated to God by the same holy oils in the Sacrament of the Holy Orders, whether it is to the diaconate, presbyterate or the episcopate.

There are three holy oils used by the Church that are blessed today in the Chrism Mass. They are namely the Sacred Chrism, the Oil of the Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick. Each of them mark Christians through different moments and stages in their lives, with the Oil of the Catechumens used first to mark the catechumens or those who seek to be baptised and welcomed into the Church. All of them are reminders of how the holy oils mark one as sacred and holy, in the same way of how the kings of Israel like Saul, David, Solomon and others were anointed by God through His servants.

The Sacred Chrism, also known as Sanctum Chrisma is usually the one most frequently used as it is used to anoint the newly baptised Christians, as well as during the Sacrament of Confirmation, and also during the dedication and consecration of churches and altars, the ordination of deacons, priests and bishops. The Oil of the Catechumens, also known as Oleum Catechumenorum, as mentioned marks those who have expressed their willingness to embrace the Christian faith and the Lord as their God and Saviour. Lastly, the Oil of the Sick, also known as Oleum Infirmorum, as its name suggests, is used for the anointing of the sick in the Sacrament of the Sick, for those who are in the danger of death.

Each of these holy oils as mentioned mark us Christians at various stages of our faith and life, and all of them are very significant as they are also reminders of our own vocations, our calling as Christians. As Christians, we are all marked by God as His own, as partakers of the Covenant that He has made with us through Christ, His Son. By all that He had done throughout His Passion, which we focus and reflect on this Holy Week, God has established a new and everlasting Covenant with us, a Covenant that is founded on His enduring and patient, wonderful love for every one of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, while today the clergy, the bishops and the priests all around the world are renewing their vows and promises, the whole Church especially the laity are also involved. This day is not a celebration or reminder just for the clergy but also for everyone, as we must not forget that even the laity have all also been anointed with the sacred oils before and after their baptism, and most of us who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation have also been anointed further and given the affirmation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit entrusted to us all. Each and every one of us have been called and chosen, and some of us have been called to a higher calling to give their whole lives to God, but all are called all the same.

Today all of us are reminded to follow Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Whose life itself is an example for us all to follow, in His obedience to the Father’s will, in His love for each and every one of us, even to the worst of sinners and to the most despised ones among everyone. As Christians, we can no longer be idle in living our faith in our lives. We cannot and should not pay mere lip service to the Lord and pretend to be faithful to Him when in fact we do not have faith in Him. The Lord has always been patient in loving us and in wanting to be reconciled with us, but often it is us who refused to listen to Him and resist His efforts to bring us closer to Him.

Many of us have also not lived our lives as Christians in the way that we should have. We spent a lot of time worrying and caring about our own personal matters, concerns and ambitions, but we barely spent any time with the Lord, and let us ask ourselves if we even thought of having to attend Masses on Sundays as a chore? How many of us cannot wait until the Mass is over so that we can continue with our own daily activities, our own worldly pursuits, the pursuit for money, power, glory, fame and many others? Have we even spent good, precious and quality time with the Lord? Remember, brothers and sisters, this Holy Week is a call for us to recall God’s great love for us, that He willingly took up His Cross to redeem us, because He loved us more than He despised our sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reflect on the importance of answering God’s call in our lives. Let us all turn towards God with faith, with renewed zeal and commitment, that each and every one of us may draw ever closer to God and be His true disciples and followers. Through the anointing with the holy oils we have been marked and made holy for God, and it is time for us to answer His call for us, and embracing Him wholeheartedly from now on. May God be with us always and may He empower us to live ever faithfully in His presence from now on, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 14 April 2022 : Holy Thursday, Chrism Mass (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 4 : 16-21

At that time, when Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as He usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed Him the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.”

Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He said to them, “Today these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.”

Thursday, 14 April 2022 : Holy Thursday, Chrism Mass (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 1 : 5-8

And from Jesus Christ, the faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, the Ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him Who loves us and has washed away our sins with His own Blood, making us a kingdom and priests for God His Father, to Him be the glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

See He comes with the clouds and everyone will see Him, even those who pierced Him; on His account all the nations of the earth will beat his breast. Yes. It will be so. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, He Who is, Who was and Who is to come : the Master of the universe.

Thursday, 14 April 2022 : Holy Thursday, Chrism Mass (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 88 : 21-22, 25 and 27

I have found David my servant, and with My holy oil I have anointed him. My hand will be ever with him and My arm will sustain him.

My faithfulness and love will be with him, and by My help he will be strong. He will call on Me, ‘You are my Father, my God, my Rock, my Saviour.’

Thursday, 14 April 2022 : Holy Thursday, Chrism Mass (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 61 : 1-3a, 6a, 8b-9

The Spirit of the Lord YHVH is upon Me, because YHVH has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up broken hearts, to proclaim liberty to the captives, freedom to those languishing in prison; to announce the year of YHVH’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God; to give comfort to all who grieve; (to comfort those who mourn in Zion) and give them a garland instead of ashes.

But you will be named priests of YHVH, you will be called ministers of our God. I will give them their due reward and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a race YHVH has blessed.