Thursday, 2 April 2015 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, tonight we celebrate the beginning of the three most important days of our Faith, the Easter Triduum. Tonight we celebrate that night when our Lord Jesus Christ had given to us all, through His disciples, His own Body and His own Blood, which He gave to us through the Eucharist, the bread and wine which He transformed into the very essence of His Body and Blood.

And tonight we also commemorate that moment when God renewed His covenant and promise of love for us, which He made by the renewed gift of the Passover lamb, which blood once became the hope and liberation for a people and a nation under slavery, whom God marked among the nations with the blood of the lamb, as a people blessed and favoured by God, whom He brought out of Egypt in the first Passover.

That Passover was a very important moment for the people of Israel, for it was at that Passover that God, with His own mighty power and deeds, singularly freed the people whom He had chosen, from the slavery of the Egyptians. They were freed, all those whose houses were marked by the blood of the unblemished lamb, as they ate the flesh of the same lamb at the threshold of liberation and salvation from the Egyptians.

And today, we commemorate the renewal of that covenant which God had established anew with all of His people through Jesus, His Son whom He had sent into the world to be the salvation of all who believe in Him. There is a strong parallel between the Passover and the true, Christian Passover instituted at the Last Supper. While at the first Passover, the Lord freed a nation from the tyranny and slavery of the Egyptians, the true and renewed Passover was when the Lord in His might brought all of His beloved people, out of the tyranny of evil and the slavery of sin.

And while the people of Israel marked their houses with the blood of a young, unblemished lamb and ate its flesh roasted over the fire, as a sign of God’s salvation, Christ is the true Paschal Lamb, the true Lamb of God, who gave Himself freely to all of us, offering His own Body and His own Blood, so that all of us who ate of His Body and drank His Blood shall not die but receive everlasting life.

Through the bread and wine which Jesus Himself transformed into His own Body and Blood, He had marked us all as His chosen ones, all of us who have been baptised into His Church and who have received Him in the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist. Just as the angels of death passed over the people of Israel whose houses were marked with the blood of the lamb, from which came the term ‘Passover’, thus we all who have been marked by the Blood of the Lamb of God shall also be passed over from death, and shall receive the rich rewards of eternal life.

But today’s very special occasion also reminds us all that this does not come easily and without challenges. We cannot be passive in our faith life, and neither can we just expect salvation to come while we sit down and relax. Our faith is not one where we just have to wait for the Lord to come and feed us an guide us, and we do not need to do anything else. On the contrary, our faith must be a living and real faith, filled with action and deeds that justify our faith.

And our Lord Jesus Himself showed by example what this means. He took of His garments, and wearing the clothes of a servant and slave, He went down on His knees to wash the feet of His disciples, an act that at that time, and even today, would be considered in terms of the world, a very humiliating and debasing act for whoever is the one who performed the act of the washing of the feet.

To wash someone else’s feet is among the greatest if not the greatest act of lowering oneself before another, for that is indeed the act showing greatest amount of humility and total disregard of one’s own pride and self. And this was what Jesus had done. He is King of all kings, Lord of all lords, Creator and Master of all the universe, the Almighty God and Omnipotent Lord of all, and yet there He was, washing the feet of His own disciples, sinners and mere men.

What Jesus wanted to show us is that, to be greater and to be endowed with greater gifts come equally great responsibility, and a leader should not boast or gloat in his or her power or might, but instead he or she should serve and give the best to guide all those who have been entrusted under his or her care. In this Jesus also showed us that as a King, a Lord, a Master and a Leader, He was like a shepherd guiding his flock of sheep.

A good and dedicated shepherd serve the needs of his sheep, and guide them to safety. He does not run when danger comes, and when wolves come to strike at the sheep, the good shepherd would even gave his life in exchange for the safety of his sheep. And that was what Jesus had done. Not only by His service to those who had been entrusted to Him, but also by His perfectly selfless sacrifice on the cross.

On this day, all of us are called to serve one another, to love one another, and to give of ourselves, our entire being and selves, to help one another and give of our heart, our attention and care to others around us. We cannot be selfish in our faith, and neither can we just be concerned only about salvation. No matter how much piety we have or devotions to the Lord we have, but if we do not have love for our brethren, our faith means nothing.

Today is also named Maundy Thursday, and the word Maundy comes from the term ‘Mandatum’ which is the Latin word for ‘command’, and this is because on this occasion, at the Last Supper, which we commemorate tonight, our Lord Jesus Himself had given is all a command, a new commandment as part of our new Covenant with God.

And this commandment, is exactly as what Jesus Himself had said about the essence of the Law, the true meaning of the Law of God as revealed first to Moses long ago during the Exodus. It is that we should love one another, just as our Lord Himself had loved us, and therefore, vice versa, we should also love our Lord in the same way too. There is no greater love than for someone to lay down his life for his friends, and Jesus died for all of us, even while we are still sinners and rebels against God.

We have to give it all when we love others. We cannot be biased or be judgmental in loving one another. Forgive the faults that others had done to us, just as they should forgive whatever faults we have done to them, and we must not hold grudge. These things are easy to be said, but not easy to be done in reality. Therefore, on this occasion of Holy Thursday, we are also reminded that we have much homework to do, in order to become ever better, ever more faithful servant and followers of our Lord.

Therefore, let us all pray, pray fervently and obediently, that all of us may be ever strengthened in our faith, so that we may be justified also by our actions based on that same faith we have in us. Let us be reminded always that our faith must be made real through action, and all of us have the duty and responsibility to one another, to help each other grow in faith and love, and to be more devoted servant of our Lord. Let us follow the examples of our Lord Jesus Christ and walk ever in His light and grace. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 2 April 2015 : 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, 2 April 2015 : 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 chalice after the supper, He said, “This chalice 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 chalice, you are proclaiming the death of the Lord until He comes.

Thursday, 2 April 2015 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

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

The Lord remembers us and will bless us; He will bless the family of Israel; He will bless the family of Aaron; He will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great.

May you be blessed by the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. Heaven belongs to the Lord, but the earth He has given to humans.

It is not the dead who praise the Lord, for they have gone down to silence; but it is we, the living, who bless the Lord, from now on and forever.

Thursday, 2 April 2015 : 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 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, 2 April 2015 : Maundy Thursday, Chrism Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this occasion we are celebrating the Chrism Mass, which is always celebrated on the Thursday of Holy Week, also known as Maundy or Holy Thursday. On this special occasion, the bishops of each diocese will celebrate together with all of each diocese’s priests, where they will all reaffirm their promises and vows made at their ordination and consecration as anointed servants of God.

On this occasion of Chrism Mass as well, the oils to be used for various purposes are blessed and made holy. There are three types of oil, the oil of chrism for baptism and confirmation, the oil of the catechumens for the anointing of the candidates for baptism, and finally the oil of the sick, for the last unction, or the Sacrament for the Sick and Dying. These holy oils are blessed on this occasion, and the significance of it in relation to what I have mentioned earlier about priests are great.

This is all in accordance with all the readings of the Holy Scriptures today, that all of us who have chosen to take up the cross and follow our Lord Jesus had been chosen and taken out from the world to be made special and different. We were once sinners and estranged children of our Lord, but through this effort and by the grace of God, we have been made to share in the glory of Christ.

Since the ancient days of the Old Testament, anointing with the holy oils have been a special sign to the people, that whoever was anointed, was chosen by the Lord to be His servant. Saul, the first king of Israel was anointed, and so was David, whom God anointed through Samuel. The kings of Israel were anointed, and the priests of Israel, the descendants of Aaron were also anointed, since the days of Moses and the Exodus when the priesthood was first instituted.

All of us who have given ourselves to be baptised, or by our parents’ wish and decision, have been chosen from among all the people of the world, and in baptism and by anointing with the holy oil of chrism, we have become God’s children and in serving Him, we share together, the three aspects of Christ, namely His Kingship, His Priesthood and His service to God as a faithful servant.

And those of us who have chosen to deepen our faith and do more for the Lord, by joining the sacred order of priesthood and the ordained ministry, we have been anointed and chosen even more by our Lord to do ever more things for His glory and for the good and salvation of all mankind, our brethren. It is to remind us, with this occasion of Chrism Mass, the dedication and the commitment which all of us ought to have for the Lord and for His people.

All of us have our duties and obligations, the responsibilities which all of us should take up together as the members of God’s Church. We have many tasks to do, beginning of course from ourselves, to change our ways so that our own lives will be more attuned and in line with the ways of the Lord, and so that we may show to others how to follow the Lord and walk in His ways.

We have our responsibilities to take care of one another to grow in faith. Rather than be disgusted by one’s wickedness and condemning others because of that wickedness, it is better for us to learn to accept each other’s weakness and work together to be better and more faithful servant of the Lord. We have to be awakened to our responsibilities and learn how to take up the crosses of our life, and contribute to make a difference.

Today as we bless this oil, of catechumens, of chrism, and those of the sick, let us all renew our faith, dedication and devotion to the Lord, and renew our commitment, which we ought to show through our actions, and in how we interact with one another. Let us all remember that all of us have been called and made holy, as a priestly people, a royal people and a people dedicated to the Lord, so that we may share together the love and grace of God, for the good and salvation of all mankind. God be with us always. Amen.

Thursday, 2 April 2015 : Maundy 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.”