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.