Thursday, 24 March 2016 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we begin the most important part of the entire liturgical year of the Church, as we come to celebrate the most important moments in the history of the salvation of mankind, the Easter Triduum, where we celebrate the last moments of our Lord Jesus Christ in His earthly works and ministry, in how He instituted the Eucharist, and giving up Himself to suffer and to die for our sake on the cross, before risen again in glory, resurrected from the dead.

In all this, today marks the beginning of our observation of these most important mysteries and aspects of our faith. We begin our immersion into the most intimate mysteries and the history of our salvation as we gather together to celebrate this very special occasion, beginning with this Holy Mass on the occasion of Holy Thursday, when the Lord Jesus instituted the Eucharist, His own Precious Body and Blood, to be given to us all, and to be shared for our salvation.

Today is the birthday of the Mass, the very first instance when the Holy Mass was celebrated on earth, and the One Who presided over it all, was none other than Jesus our Lord Himself. In that very important act during the last time He had the Passover meal with His disciples, He reenacted the very first Passover, when the Jews had their Passover meal as instructed by the Lord, the night of their liberation.

At that time, the people of Israel were under the tyranny of the Pharaohs and slavery under the Egyptians, when they suffered greatly and worked tirelessly and even unto death, slaving themselves under the weight of the yoke of the Egyptians. And God sent them deliverance through His servant Moses, who showed the Pharaoh and the Egyptians the might of God Who wanted His people to be free.

And after having sent plagues after plagues to strike at the Egyptians, He was to lead His people out by His own mighty hand. And He established a new covenant with them, a covenant that He established with them through the shedding of the blood of lambs, which they splashed on their doorposts as the signs to God and His Angels, sent to reap through Egypt and destroy the firstborn of the Egyptians, that those households marked with the lamb’s blood were not counted among the Egyptians.

They ate and shared the lamb amongst themselves, as the sign of God’s covenant with them, Who passed over them as the ones to be saved and rescued as He showed His wrath over the Egyptians. Thus, this was the very important symbol of their salvation and liberation, and which God instructed them to keep forever, and to be celebrated as the most important of all feasts and celebrations.

And it was that same commemoration that Jesus had celebrated with His disciples. But unlike all the other Passover meals and feasts, that moment, which we now know as the Last Supper, was different. That was because instead of sealing the covenant with the blood of lambs and to remember the slavery of Israel and how God liberated them from the hands of the Egyptians, Jesus gave the moment a new meaning, by establishing through Himself, a new, perfect and eternal covenant with all of mankind.

And He offered Himself, His own flesh and blood, through which He would mark mankind anew, not just the Israelites but all those who have accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour, that these people would not be lost, but would receive the grace of eternal life and salvation in God through Jesus Christ His Son. And those who share in His Body and His Blood would not perish, but live eternally, as long as they live worthily and in accordance with what they believe in Christ.

This means that those of us who have received the Sacrament of Baptism worthily, and kept ourselves true and faithful to our God, endeavouring to keep ourselves worthy of His presence, by the means of good works and good conscience, by obeying His laws and precepts, we all have a share in the Body and Blood that He had given us all through the Eucharist, as He is really present here among us and in each one of us.

And through that, the Lord made us worthy and justified, ready to be welcomed into the glorious inheritance which He had promised to all those who are faithful to Him. God does not abandon all those who placed their trust in Him, as He will bless them and keep them safe as He is keeping all of His flock secure and safe from all harm. But those who have not kept themselves worthy of Him, acting wickedly and continuing to sin, these God will reject and cast out from His presence.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we celebrate the moment when God Himself gave us His Body and Blood to eat and drink, and that He did by transforming in reality and essence the bread and the wine He was sharing with His disciples, into the substance and essence of His own Body and His own Blood. As He gave Himself up for our sake, He bore upon Himself our sins and all of our faults, and bore them up to the cross as the perfect offering for us all before God His Father.

Through the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of our Lord that we partake and receive, we have therefore a share in the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus, and in dying to our sins, just as He died for our sins, we have left behind our past selves and gain for ourselves a new life in Christ, a life filled with grace and righteousness. Through this we have a share in His resurrection, as we share in a new life together with our Lord.

We now have to keep in mind, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we are all now Temples of His Holy Presence, where He keeps His dwelling. He is in us, within us, because that bread and wine which we receive, and which our priests are offering on our behalf, have truly been united with the one singular ultimate sacrifice that our God had offered on the cross in Calvary. And that sacrifice is our Lord Himself, and Whose Body and Blood, the substance of the bread and wine transformed, we have received into ourselves.

If God is within us, then naturally we should endeavour to live righteously, justly and worthily, so that all of us will be worthy to be in His presence, for God Who is all good will not stand having wickedness and sin to be in His presence. Thus, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we come together to celebrate the Eucharist today, the gift of God made Man, and which gift He had given to ourselves, let us all be mindful of our own actions, and in how we live our lives.

If we have not been faithful to our Lord, then we should rectify that from now on. Let us make use of the time and opportunities given to us, so that we may bring ourselves ever closer to Him, and find our path to redemption and eternal life that we can find in Him alone. Let us all work together as the whole Church to help one another, that we may be able to make the best use out of this celebration of the Easter Triduum, and may these moments profoundly change us for the better. May God help us and guide us all. Amen.

Thursday, 24 March 2016 : 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, 24 March 2016 : 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, 24 March 2016 : 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, 24 March 2016 : 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.”