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, 1 April 2021 : Holy Thursday, Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this evening we celebrate the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, marking the beginning of the most solemn and sacred time of the Easter Triduum, the three sacred days during which the climax of the Lord’s salvific mission took place, as He passed through His Passion, the suffering, the pains and sorrows, the trials and scourges, to His nailing and death on the Cross, and finally, on the third day, He rose gloriously from the dead, conquering death itself and overthrowing the bondage of sin from mankind by His Resurrection.

Tonight, we recall the beginning of that Passion of the Lord by commemorating the Last Supper that the Lord had with His disciples, just before He was about to be arrested, condemned, humiliated and scourged, then finally suffer and die for all mankind. In the Last Supper which we commemorate today, there are truly very significant things that we ought to pay attention to, as we recall what happened that night in Jerusalem about two millennia ago.

That night, on the time of preparation for the Passover, the Lord chose to have the Passover meal with His disciples just as how all the Jewish people, the descendants of the Israelites have been celebrating the Passover ever since the first Passover in Egypt. The Passover was truly the most important event in the entire year, remembering the very moment that God Himself saved His people from death, intervening for the last time in the Ten Plagues He inflicted on the Egyptians, and with that last blow, He removed from His people the chains of tyranny and slavery.

Following that tradition, the Lord had the Passover with His disciples on the date He has chosen, and at a place He has shown His disciples, where He began the Passover meal that would change the world forever. For at that very moment, the Lord made a new Passover that was no longer about the old moment when He rescued the Israelites from their enslavement in Egypt, but a new Passover which is the salvation of all mankind from their enslavement to sin. God would rescue all of His people from the tyranny of sin and lead them to freedom.

And in all these, the Lord’s role is central, as if we see the parallel between the old Passover and the new Passover, what is notable is that, while in the old Passover, the centrepiece is the lamb, pure and blameless was prepared, set aside and slaughtered, its blood taken up and used to mark the lintels of the doors of the Israelites’ houses, while its flesh was roasted on fire and eaten up on the night of the Passover by the whole people of Israel, in the new Passover, there was no lamb in the same traditional sense.

Instead, the Lord Himself is the Sacrificial Lamb, the Lamb of God and our Paschal Lamb, as shown how the centrepiece of the entire Last Supper, the beginning of the New Passover is the Lord Himself, offering His own Precious Body and Precious Blood in the bread and wine that He has blessed and offered, given to the disciples to share and eat. And when He has blessed the bread, He said, ‘This is My Body, given up for you’, and the wine, ‘This is the cup of My Blood, the Blood of the New Covenant, poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins’.

The Lord would then go on to complete this at Good Friday, the offering of His sacrifice that began at the Last Supper. As He later on would take up His Cross, bloodied and bruised, wounded and in pain for our sins, He is that sacrificial Lamb, by Whose Blood we have been redeemed, and at the same time, He is also the High Priest offering the gift of sacrifice, as a worthy offering for the redemption of all. In this case, what He offered was Himself, His own Precious Blood, which alone is worthy to redeem us all, unlike the blood of mere lambs, which though pure and blameless, cannot be compared to the Lamb of God.

And do we all realise that the whole Liturgy of the Eucharist at each celebration of the Holy Mass is the journey of the Lord’s Passion, from the night of the Last Supper right up to the crucifixion and death of Our Lord? When the Lord Jesus lay dying on the Cross, He said a very important phrase that we often overlook, namely ‘It is finished’. Through those words, the Lord wants us to know that His offering as the Paschal Lamb has been completed, and right after that, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit’, completing the New Covenant that He established with us through His suffering and death, sealed by His Blood.

Thus, the Lord instituted on that very night the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Mass as we know it today, the celebration of the Divine Liturgy our brethren in the Eastern traditions. For that night, He offered the bread and wine that He has transformed into the very essence and reality of His own Body and Blood, shared and taken up by all the disciples, that they are all part of the new Communion of the faithful. Just as the Israelites of old partake at the table and be sharers of the Covenant of God sealed with the blood of the lamb, thus the disciples became the first partakers and sharers of the New Covenant sealed by the Lord with His own Blood.

And that very night, the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist, thus the Holy Mass came to be that very moment of the Last Supper, and the Lord authorised His disciples with the power and authority to do what He Himself had done, consecrating them to be the priests of His New Covenant and Church. That is why, from that moment on, the Apostles have the power and authority to turn the bread and wine into the same Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord, remembering the commandment the Lord spoke of, to ‘do this in the memory of Me’

Brothers and sisters in Christ, tonight as we recall that very first night when the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist on the Last Supper, we are called to reflect on the great and wonderful love that God has for each and every one of us, that He wants to rescue us all from the depth of our troubles and misery, offering Himself as the Lamb of sacrifice, to be crushed and destroyed for our sake, bruised, wounded and crucified for us, to die in our place so that we may be delivered from eternal death and into the everlasting life.

As we enter into this mystery of the Easter Triduum, all the solemn celebrations and moments we are going to have up to the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, let us all keep ourselves focused on the Lord, our Saviour and Crucified Messiah, Who have allowed Himself to take up the condition of a slave and the punishments for us. Let us all remember just how much He has endured for our sake. If we have had a difficult and challenging time this year and the past year due to the pandemic, its effects and other reasons, then do not forget that the Lord is enduring all those together with us.

We are never alone, brothers and sisters in Christ, for by sharing and partaking in His Body and Blood through the Eucharist, all of us have shared in His humanity and His death, and having been marked by His Blood just as the Israelites had their houses marked with the lamb’s blood, they had been passed over from death. Thus, in the same way, united to Christ, we have gone through the death of our past selves, and enter into a new existence as Christians, as those whom God had called and chosen, to be His own people, and share in the glorious Resurrection into a new life of grace.

The Lord is journeying with us together through these difficult moments, and by what He has done in the Gospel today, as He came to serve the disciples by washing their feet, a job usually done by a servant or slave, He wants us all to journey together as one people and one Church, all hand in hand together, serving one another and showing care and concern for one another. What the Lord had mandated His disciples to do was to do what He had taught and shown them to do, and it is to show love and concern towards our fellow brethren.

Let us all therefore play our active parts as Christians, called and chosen to be the Lord’s disciples and followers, that in our every words, deeds and actions, we will always show Christian love and faith, showing love for our fellow brothers and sisters, all sharing in this same Communion and in the same New Covenant that God has established through Christ, all of us the members of this same One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

From now on, let us renew our faith in the Lord and learn to appreciate the Holy Mass and particularly the wonderful gift of the Holy Eucharist, Our Lord’s own Most Precious Body and Blood, which He had shed and poured out of love for us, for our salvation. And as we enter into this most solemn and sacred Easter Triduum let us all commit ourselves and our time to the Lord, refocusing our attention to Him, and reflecting on all that He had done for us, all the love that He has shown us, and how fortunate we all have been to be beloved in such a manner.

May God be with us always, brothers and sisters in Christ, and may He strengthen us especially through the Easter Triduum that we may grow ever stronger in faith and commitment to Him, and also in our belief and devotion to the Holy Eucharist, to Our Lord’s Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood, as the centrepoint of every celebration of the Holy Mass and Divine worship. May He guide us all, through these solemn and holy days, that we may benefit most wonderfully from the experience of faith. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 9 April 2020 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this night we begin the solemn three days of great celebration and commemoration of the most important events in the history of the salvation of all mankind, collectively called the Easter Triduum. On this night we remember that Last Supper which the Lord Jesus had with His disciples, as He instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, which is why today’s celebration is truly very significant, as it established one of the core tenets of our faith, believing that the Lord has given us His own Most Precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist, the bread and wine turned into this Body and Blood of the Lord.

Today’s important celebration cannot be overlooked as we have the Lord Jesus, as the Eternal High Priest of all, offering His own Body and Blood, in the form of bread and wine He had at the Last Supper, the very first Sacrifice of the Mass, lifted up as offering to God the Father, and which is turned into the essence and substance of His own Body and Blood offered on the Altar of the Cross at Calvary, where this Sacrifice is finally completed. The Lord Jesus Himself indicated this just before He was about to die with the words, ‘It is accomplished’.

On this day, we also remember the ‘Mandate’ from the Lord to His disciples, which is the reason why today is also known as Maundy Thursday, the word ‘Maundy’ originating from the Latin word ‘Mandatum’ which means ‘Mandate’ and commission that the Lord had given to His disciples, as we heard in our Gospel passage today. That we practice the custom of the washing of the feet during the Mass today came about from the action that the Lord Himself took, as He humbled Himself like a servant, even a slave, before His disciples and washed their feet.

This is something which only a slave would do to his master, and that was why St. Peter was so reluctant to accept that the Lord would do such a denigrating and humiliating thing before his own eyes. Yet, the Lord told him to obey, and to follow, as in the end, whatever He has done to them, they were to do to each other as well. What this means is that, just as the Master has loved His disciples that is all of us so much, that He was willing to do everything for us, then we too should love one another in a genuinely Christian way and show authentic love, care and compassion.

Through this institution of the Holy Eucharist today, the Lord has established the institution of priesthood as well, as He instituted and made His own disciples to be priests just like Him as the High Priest. To them, He has given the power and authority to celebrate and offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as He has done, which is why He also commanded them to ‘Do this in the memory of Me’. Every time the Holy Mass is celebrated, it is not a new sacrifice being celebrated, but the same sacrifice which our Lord has offered on the Cross.

That is why we all truly believe that the bread and wine offered in the Mass has been completely transformed and changed in essence and substance to the Most Precious Body and Blood of the Lord, although their appearance may still be that of bread and wine. We believe that by the hands of our priests, who have received the same power and authority passed onto them from the Apostles and their successors, our bishops, we have received the Lord Himself, Body and Blood, in the Eucharist.

Today therefore we are called to reflect on this great gift of God for us, that He has willingly shed His own Body and Blood that we who partake in the Body and Blood of Christ, may be united to Him, and share in His death on the Cross, and by dying to our past existence, we may then have a share too in His glorious Resurrection. If we do not receive Him worthily and with faith, then we will not have part in Him just as the Lord had said. We will remain separated and sundered from Him.

We should not treat the celebrations of today and the upcoming Good Friday and Easter Vigil separately, but instead as one unity, which is why they are celebrated together as the Easter Triduum. It is this supreme moment of our human history and existence that we celebrate that time when the Lord saved us all by His perfect, loving and willing sacrifice, emptying Himself of all things and taking up upon Himself all the punishments, burdens and sufferings for the redemption of our sins.

And as we enter into these most sacred moments in the entire liturgical year, let us all have this renewed faith in God, that particularly amidst our current difficult situation all around us, the global spread of the coronavirus pandemic among other things, all the economic downturn and instabilities, all the despair and darkness all around, we still have hope in the Lord. In God is the light that is ever present and ever trustworthy even in the most challenging moments of our lives, and we need to hold on to this faith.

Let us all spend these three days of the Easter Triduum deepening our faith and dedication to the Lord, making good use of the time to reflect on how fortunate all of us to have been beloved by God so much that He was willing to go through all the troubles and sufferings for our sake. Let us all also spend the time to reflect on our lives and discern carefully how we can live our lives in a more Christian and Christ-like way, in serving others and in loving our fellow brethren, like how the Lord Jesus Himself taught us and His disciples, in being humble and obedient at all times.

And let us also not forget our brothers and sisters who are now suffering, either because they are sick and dying from the pandemic and from other diseases and ailments, or because they are separated from their loved ones and families, particularly our frontline healthcare staffs and peoples involved in various efforts to restore normalcy in our communities. Let us all keep them in our prayers and do whatever we can do to help and support them.

Of course, lastly we must also continue to support our priests, our bishops, our Pope and the Church, that they will continue to be faithful and strong in their dedication to serve the flock of the Lord according to the Mandate that the Lord had passed on to His disciples. Let us pray for them, our shepherds that they may remain strong and courageous in leading us and serving us even through these very difficult times. Let us be united with them and the whole Church in our renewed faith and obedience to God from now onwards.

May the Lord help us and guide us through this Easter Triduum beginning today that we may benefit as much as possible from this time of reorientation of our focus in life towards God. May God strengthen us all in faith and may He empower us all to live ever more faithfully in His presence, now and always. May God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 18 April 2019 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this evening we celebrate together the first day of the Paschal or Easter Triduum, the three most important days in the entire liturgical year, marking the beginning of the events that marked the very crucial moment in our human history and existence, the moment when God Himself intervened to save us all from our fated destruction, by His own Passion, suffering and death on the cross, and by His glorious resurrection, through which He conquered sin and death.

On this night we gather to celebrate the moment of Our Lord’s Last Supper with His disciples, which marked the beginning of the long sequence of events that led to His death on the cross, and on that night, when the Last Supper happened, the Lord instituted not just one, but two of the most important Sacraments of the Church, that is of the Eucharist, as well as the Holy Orders of the sacred priesthood.

First of all, with regards to the Eucharist, on this night, through the Scripture passages we heard, we are reminded of the Last Supper being the new and true Passover, which fulfilled and completed the Passover as known to the Jewish people, the one that celebrated the moment of the liberation of the people of Israel from their slavery in the land of Egypt, when God brought them out by His own power, and freed them from the tyranny of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh.

The details were mentioned in our first reading passage today, in which the Israelites were told to take a lamb for each household, and in which the lamb was to be slaughtered and to be eaten after being roasted on the fire for each of the members of the household. Meanwhile, the blood of the lamb was to be marked on the doorposts of the houses of the people of Israel, so that the Angel of God bearing the plague of death on the Egyptians would not harm them.

And this is where the new, Christian Passover of Our Lord Jesus Christ, represented in the Last Supper, was truly significant when we understand the importance of the first, old Jewish Passover of the time of the Exodus. At the new Christian Passover, that is at the Last Supper, there is also lamb to be sacrificed and shared by the people, but that is not the usual Passover as known to the Jewish people at the time. For the Lord Himself is the Lamb, and He offered Himself, His own Flesh and Blood, to be the Lamb of Sacrifice.

And the Last Supper was merely part of a larger celebration and event, which is why, we celebrate it all together as part of the most sacred Paschal Triduum, where if we carefully look through the entirety of the liturgical celebrations, is one large and extended celebration of the Holy Mass, because the same Eucharist consecrated on this night, at the celebration of the Last Supper, will also be used tomorrow on Good Friday, the day when we celebrate the Lord’s crucifixion and death.

As such, the Last Supper cannot be separated from the Crucifixion, for both of them are part of the one and same sacrifice of Our Lord. Jesus Our Lord is the Lamb of the Passover, the Paschal Lamb Who has been sacrificed for us all, just as how the priests of the ancient Israel offered the sacrificial lamb for the atonement of the sins of the people, and the sacrificial lamb’s blood was spilled on the altar as a reminder of how the blood of the lamb marked Israel’s salvation and liberation at the time of the Exodus.

Significantly, the Lamb of God, our Paschal Lamb is none other than the Lord Jesus Himself, willingly embraced to be slaughtered for all of our sins, and spilled His own Most Precious Blood on the Altar of the Cross. Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, Calvary or Golgotha, the place where the Lord was crucified, is the Altar on which the Lord offered Himself both as the High Priest of all of us mankind, and offering Himself as the perfect offering by which God reconciled us all to Himself.

When the Lord at the Last Supper took the bread, blessed the bread and said the words of the Institution, “Take this all of you and eat of it, for this is My Body… which shall be given up for you…” and when He took the chalice, filled with wine, blessed it and gave it to His disciples to drink, “Take this, all of you and drink from it… for this is the chalice of My Blood… the Blood of the New and Eternal Covenant…” He did not just symbolically just mentioned the bread and wine being His Body and Blood.

On the contrary, Jesus was very clear, that the bread and wine, through His own Divine Power and united to His own crucifixion that would soon to happen at the time, that the bread He gave to His disciples was His Real Body and the wine He gave to them was His Real Blood. And to all of His disciples, He has given them the commandment and the mandate, to do what He has done, in His memory.

And when He passed His Body and Blood to His disciples, it was just as the old Jewish Passover, when everyone shared in the lamb that has been slaughtered, by which blood they have been ‘passed over’ by the Angel of Death, and were saved. The Israelites were saved and liberated from the slavery of sin by the blood of the unblemished lamb, and now, all of us who believe in Christ, are saved by the Blood of the Lamb of God, the true and perfect unblemished Lamb, worthy to save us all from our sins.

That was why, just as the Lord instituted the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist, He also instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Orders at that occasion of the Last Supper, which we are celebrating tonight. Each of those whom God has called and chosen to be His holy priests, are the successors of the Apostles, to whom the Lord has given the power and the authority, to unite their own offerings at every celebrations of the Holy Mass, to His own sacrificial offering on the Cross at Calvary.

That is why, every single celebrations of the Mass is properly known as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, instituted by the Lord Himself, as the same sacrifice that the Lord has performed at Calvary. The Lord is not sacrificed again and again, but only once and for all, and this is the same sacrifice which is reenacted again and again at every celebration of the Holy Mass, when the priests, ordained by the successors of the Apostles, and become successors of the Apostles themselves.

The responsibilities that our priests have accepted to bear are enormous, as they are entrusted with the role to be in persona Christi, to represent Christ Himself in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and therefore, to bring forth and unite all the people of God to the same sacrifice that the Lord Jesus has done on the Cross. Through His suffering and death on the Cross, Christ has become the ultimate servant of all, the servant of all the people of God, humbling Himself and emptying Himself of all glory, that He may save us all through His perfect and selfless offering of love.

Thus, let us all pray, brothers and sisters in Christ, that each and every one of us will deepen our faith in God, especially as we enter into the sacred mysteries of the Paschal Triduum, and reflect on our belief and faith in the Real Presence of God in the Eucharist, and unite our prayers together with all those whom God had called to be His servants, to be those called to the Holy Orders, to be like Christ and to be His representatives on this world.

Let us all pray that our priests will be filled with love, and also a spirit of humility and selflessness, that they may offer their own loving self and give themselves in sacrifice for the good of all the people of God, just as the Lord Himself has done. Let us all pray that they all will be faithful to the calling and to the mission which God has entrusted to them, that just as He commanded them as He washed the feet of His disciples, that they will be filled with a spirit of faithful servanthood, of courageous faith to serve all of God’s people.

And finally, let us also be inspired by the examples set by our priests and all those who have given themselves to the service of God, that we too, may follow the example of the Lord and obey the commandment that He has mandated to His disciples, that we love one another, and be humble in all things, becoming servant to one another in love.

Let us all recall that infinite and boundless love that Christ has shown us, by His willing sacrifice in becoming our Paschal Lamb of sacrifice, so that each and every one of us who partake in Him in the Eucharist, will share in His death, by dying to our own past, sinful selves, and then share in His glorious resurrection, to a new life filled with God’s grace. Let us all then prepare ourselves to celebrate meaningfully the most important events in the history of our salvation, by focusing our attention on this Paschal Triduum on Our Lord Jesus Christ, His love for us, and His selfless sacrifice, by which all of us have been saved, by the power of the Cross. Amen.

Thursday, 29 March 2018 : Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Holy Thursday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we begin the three most important and solemn days of celebration in the entire liturgical year, that is the Easter Triduum. This is because all the events that are commemorated every year between this Holy Thursday evening until the morning of Easter Sunday are all linked together as one whole event, of the Passion, suffering, death and eventually glorious resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

On this day we commemorate together the beginning of the most pivotal moments in our human history and existence, beginning with the Last Supper which the Lord Jesus had with His disciples on the night before He was to suffer and die on the cross, betrayed by one of His own closest disciples, Judas Iscariot. On that night, the Lord Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover, which was mentioned in our first reading passage today, as the celebration of the liberation of the people of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians.

The Jewish Passover is the most important feast of the entire Jewish calendar, and the most pivotal moment in the history of God’s people, the Israelites. At that time, the people of Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were persecuted and enslaved in Egypt, and faced even extermination by the hands of their slavemasters. The Egyptian king, the Pharaoh even ordered the killing of all newborn male babies of the Israelites to exterminate them.

God saved His beloved people by sending to them deliverance through His servant Moses, and sending ten great plagues against the Egyptians and their king, the Pharaoh. When the Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the Israelites go, again and again, the ten plagues bore down hard on the Egyptians, that they even begged their king to let the Israelites go free.

Eventually, the Lord sent the last and the greatest of all among the ten plagues, the death of all the firstborn child of the Egyptians, from the Pharaoh’s child to the lowest among the Egyptians, from all the men to all the animals and beasts of the Egyptians alike. It affected everyone and every animals in the land of Egypt, but passing over the houses of the Israelites, hence the term of the celebration as the ‘Passover’.

The Lord passed over the houses of the Israelites because He has instructed Moses, His servant, to tell the people to choose a young and unblemished lamb, to be kept for a certain period of days, before it was slaughtered for the feast of the Passover. The blood of the lamb was collected and then used to mark the doorposts of the houses of the Lord’s people. The Lord saw the mark of the blood of the Passover lamb, and passed over the house. The lamb meat itself was roasted over the fire and eaten during the Passover.

As we remember this very first Passover, which the Lord instructed His people to keep year after year, and at all times, we can see great parallel and rich symbolism with what the Lord has done at that Last Supper He had with His disciples, as that meal is also a Passover meal like that of the old Jewish Passover which commemorated the liberation of God’s people from the slavery they suffered in Egypt.

But in that Last Supper, the Lord did things very differently, though in parallel with the original Jewish Passover. First of all, the Last Supper did not feature any lamb eaten during the meal, unlike the original Passover. Why is this so? That is because Our Lord Himself, the Paschal Lamb, is the Lamb to be sacrificed on the Altar of Calvary. And the shedding of His own Body and Blood, parallel to the use and purpose of the lamb in the original Passover, has become the source of our own salvation.

Thus, whatever we commemorate in the Last Supper, cannot be separated or distinguished from what we commemorate tomorrow on Good Friday, for all the things that happened at the Last Supper is united to the loving sacrifice of the Lord on the cross. Without the cross, then the Last Supper and all that the Lord has said in that event would not have a complete meaning, and vice versa, without the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist, then the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross is not complete either.

At the Last Supper, the Lord took up the bread, and blessed it, and then, gave it to His disciples, saying that it is His Body, given up to all of them to eat. Then He also passed around the wine He blessed, which He said that it is His Blood, poured out for all the people as the atonement for their sins. While the people of Israel were enslaved in the body to the Egyptians at that time, but all of us, the Israelites included, have been enslaved to our sins.

That is why, even though the Israelites were freed from their bondage in Egypt, but after that, as they journeyed through the desert, they disobeyed God and sinned against Him, and then they perished. They perished because death is the just consequence and punishment for sin, and all of us have sinned and thus deserving death. Sin is the greatest of all plagues and sicknesses, which claimed everything it touched and corrupted everything it was present in.

But God, through His great love for us, did everything He could in order to save us, by none other than the giving of His own beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to be the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice for us all. As the doorposts of the houses of the Israelites have been marked by the blood of the Passover lamb and death passed over it, so has the Blood of Christ, which we receive into us, marking us as God’s own beloved ones, made death and damnation in hell to pass over us.

This is the Christian Passover, the new and everlasting Covenant God made with each and every one of us. And this can only happen if each one of us truly receive from God, the gift of His own Body and Blood, in the Most Holy Eucharist that we partake in the Mass. That is why on this occasion when we celebrate the Last Supper, we also celebrate the Institution of the Sacrament of the Eucharist as well as the Holy Orders of Christian priesthood.

Why is that so? That is because Jesus made it very clear when He said it, that the bread He gave to the disciples, is not a symbol, or a representation, or an image, or a memorial or a mere substitute for His Body, but it is His Body, real in the flesh, though in our eyes it appears as a mere, lowly bread. The bread, by the power of Our Lord Himself, has been made in existence and substance, the essence and material of His own Body, and the same with the wine, made to be the essence and material of His Precious Blood.

And to His disciples, the Lord has given the same authority, to bring unto us His faithful ones, the same Body and Blood that Our Lord has offered as a willing sacrifice on the cross, by transforming in matter and existence, the bread and wine offered in the Holy Mass, to become His Real and Most Holy Presence, that we partake and therefore all of us share in the glory and eternal life He has promised us all His faithful ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we proceed on through the Easter Triduum, we are moving on towards the suffering and death of Our Lord on the cross, which will be celebrated tomorrow on Good Friday. Let us all appreciate and understand even more, just how much that God loves us, to the point that He gave us everything He could, and did the best He could, even to the point of death on the cross, just so that we may be saved.

Let us all spend time with the Lord tonight, by remembering what He has said to His disciples, that while the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Let us grow ever more devoted to God, and spend time with Him, so that we may appreciate ever more how God is ever present in our lives, and by receiving Him in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, He now dwells in us, making us His holy Temple. Turn away from sin and be righteous from now on.

May God be with us all, be with His Church, and also especially with our priests and bishops, to whom He has entrusted the governance and guidance over His Church. Let us pray fervently and help one another, together as members of God’s Church, striving to live earnestly and faithfully in all things. May the Lord be with us always and bless us forevermore. Amen.