(Holy Week) Thursday, 13 April 2017 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we begin the three days of the holiest moments in the whole liturgical year, the Easter Triduum, celebrating the centrepiece of our faith, beginning with today when we celebrate the occasion of Maundy or Holy Thursday, the Last Supper which the Lord Jesus had with His disciples on the night before He suffered and died, and then tomorrow’s Good Friday, commemorating the moment when Jesus died on the cross, and finally the Easter Vigil celebrations, on the triumph of the Risen Christ over sin and death.

Today therefore we begin that very solemn occasion, the time when the Lord began His Passion, the time of the fulfilment of His earthly ministry, the time when He completed the journey He started, in bringing all the people of God back to the embrace of God, and in declaring to all of them the Good News of God. On this day we also mark the time when He revealed to all the ultimate gift which He had given to all of us mankind, that is the gift of none other than that of His own Body and Blood, the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God, the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of our sins.

For the Lord had His Last Supper with His disciples as we celebrate the occasion this evening, in the imitation and indeed perfection of the original Jewish Passover feast, which was celebrated year after year as the most important of all feasts and festivals, because on that day, God showed forth His might and power, in order to bring His enslaved people out of the tyranny and slavery in Egypt. Even though they had been marked for death by the Pharaoh, but God provided for them salvation beyond even their despair.

God made them to keep a young lamb without blemish, to be slaughtered on the time He had appointed to them. That was the very first Passover, the time when the Israelites slaughtered the lamb and used its blood to mark their houses, by putting it on their houses, on the lintels and doorposts, so that when God sent His Angels to scour through the whole Egypt, to kill the firstborn sons of Egypt, the sons of Israel would not be harmed and thus would be ‘passed over’.

And thus, by His grace and by His power, God had liberated His people through the pouring of the blood of the lamb of sacrifice, the unblemished lamb which was slaughtered, and consumed by the Israelites together with the unleavened bread, during the very first Passover. Ever since, the people of Israel continued to remember that important event, by repeating it again and again, year after year, to remember the moment that God brought them all to freedom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what the Lord Jesus had done on that day, the Last Supper which He had with His disciples was also a Passover meal, the new Passover which Jesus instituted that very night and which today we remember, as well as at every time we celebrate the Holy Mass. That is because, just as the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites and made them to suffer, all of us mankind had also been enslaved by sin, and sin is what the Lord was liberating us all from, as He went forth through His Passion and ultimately, death.

And this time, God also brought forth a lamb of sacrifice, a worthy lamb, and a spotless and unblemished lamb. However, unlike any earthly lambs, which blood could do nothing more than temporary respite and absolution from sin, which the priests ever since the time of Aaron and his sons would need to continue to offer and sacrifice again and again, on that day, that night of the Last Supper, Christ Himself is the Lamb, the Lamb of God.

Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God, as we always remember saying during the Holy Mass, as the One Who takes away the sins of the world. He gave His disciples His own Body, through the bread He blessed and broke, and then His own Blood, by the blessed wine He had passed to them. And God therefore had redeemed and liberated His people by the offering of the Blood of the Lamb, which we all have received and shared, and by that mark of our faith, we have been ‘passed over’ from our fate of eternal death and damnation.

We should have perished and be damned for eternity for our sins, for all the wickedness that we have committed in life. And yet, because we have our Lord and Master Who did not give up on us, and Who in fact willingly sought to forgive us and redeem us from our sins, we have a new hope and the opportunity of having a new life in Him, abandoning our past ways of sin and embracing a new life blessed and filled with the grace of God.

Jesus is our High Priest, Who had come upon us, offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the oblation and for the forgiveness of our sins. On all those who are willing to accept God’s forgiveness, He has offered all of them, the direct pathway to salvation. He has, once and for all, by offering His Body and Blood as the Lamb of sacrifice on the cross at Calvary, redeemed the whole race of mankind from the taints of their sins.

And what is important is that, through His disciples, Jesus our Lord had passed on and continued that sacred priesthood by what He had done and commanded them to do on the night of that Last Supper. Jesus washed the hands of His disciples, and told them all to do the same. And He also, while breaking up the bread and passing the wine around, commanded the disciples to do the same as what He had done at that time.

In essence, at that occasion, Jesus instituted the priesthood of the Church, which He Himself had established, and gave them the authority to be in persona Christi, that is in the person of Christ, acting on His behalf as the priests celebrate the Holy Mass, transforming the offering of bread and wine, into the real and true Holy Presence of our God, Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

Therefore, today we remember our priests and bishops, and all those who have consecrated themselves to God through holy ordination. We pray for all of them, and ask God to strengthen each and every one of them, so that through the difficult challenges and troubles that often await them on their path, they may continue to persevere and remain strong amidst all of those obstacles. Let us pray that they may continue to dedicate and serve the people of God, in the same manner as Christ had loved and served His people.

Let us all also remember the sacrifice by which Christ had lovingly protected ourselves and brought us all from the brink of annihilation into a new hope, by establishing a new Covenant with us sealed with none other than His Most Precious Blood. Let us all remember that we were once enslaved to sin, and by God’s grace we have been given the forgiveness and reconciliation which many of us are seeking for.

Let us ponder and reflect on all these, as we progress through our celebration of the Easter Triduum occasions, and let us all prepare our hearts and minds, to remember the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself willingly as our sacrifice instead of ourselves, that all of us may live. May the Lord be with us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

(Holy Week) Thursday, 13 April 2017 : 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.”

(Holy Week) Thursday, 13 April 2017 : 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.

(Holy Week) Thursday, 13 April 2017 : 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.

(Holy Week) Thursday, 13 April 2017 : 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.”

(Holy Week) Wednesday, 12 April 2017 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Matthew 26 : 14-25

Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “How much will you give me if I hand Him over to you?” They promised to give him thirty pieces of silver, and from then on, he kept looking for the best way to hand Jesus over to them.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” Jesus answered, “Go into the city, to the house of a certain man, and tell him, ‘The Master says : My hour is near, and I will celebrate the Passover with My disciples in your house.'”

The disciples did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus sat at table with the Twelve. While they were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you : one of you will betray Me.” They were deeply distressed, and they asked Him, one after the other, “You do not mean me, do You, Lord?”

He answered, “The one who dips his bread with Me will betray Me. The Son of Man is going as the Scripture says He will. But alas for that one who betrays the Son of Man : better for him not to have been born.” Judas, who was betraying Him, also asked, “You do not mean me, Master, do You?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

(Holy Week) Tuesday, 11 April 2017 : Tuesday of Holy Week, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
John 13 : 21-33, 36-38

At that time, after He said a discourse to His disciples after He washed their feet, Jesus was distressed in Spirit, and said plainly, “Truly, one of you will betray Me.” The disciples then looked at one another, wondering whom He meant. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining near Jesus; so Simon Peter signalled him to ask Jesus whom He meant.

And the disciple, who was reclining near Jesus, asked Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “I shall dip a piece of bread in the dish, and he to whom I give it, is the one.” So Jesus dipped the bread and gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And as Judas took the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus then said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”

None of the others, reclining at the table, understood why Jesus said this to Judas. As Judas had the common purse, they may have thought that Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or “Give something to the poor.” Judas left as soon as he had eaten the bread. It was night.

When Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. God will glorify Him, and He will glorify Him very soon. My children, I am with you for only a little while; you will look for Me, but as I already told the Jews, so now I tell you : where I am going you cannot come.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but afterwards you will.” Peter said, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I am ready to give my life for You.”

“To give your life for Me?” Jesus asked Peter, “Truly I tell you, the cock will not crow, before you have denied Me three times.”