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, 1 April 2021 : Holy Thursday, Evening 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, 1 April 2021 : Holy Thursday, Evening 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.

Thursday, 1 April 2021 : Holy Thursday, Evening 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.

Thursday, 1 April 2021 : Holy Thursday, Evening 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.”

Tuesday, 30 March 2021 : Tuesday of Holy Week (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.”

Sunday, 28 March 2021 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (Passion Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 14 : 1 – Mark 15 : 47

It was now two days before the Feast of the Passover and Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the teachers of the Law were looking for a way to arrest Jesus on a false charge, and put Him to death; but they said, “Not during the Festival, for there might be trouble among the people.”

Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper. As He was reclining at dinner, a woman entered carrying an alabaster jar of expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfumed oil on Jesus’ head. Then some of them became angry and said, “What a useless waste of perfume. It could have been sold for more than three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor.” And they criticised her.

But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why are you troubling her? What she has just done for Me is a very charitable work. At any time you can help the poor, for you always have them with you; but you will not have Me forever. This woman did what she had to do : she anointed My Body for burial, before I die. Truly, I say to you, wherever the Good News is proclaimed, and this will be throughout the world, what she has done will be told in praise of her.”

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went off to the chief priests, in order to betray Jesus to them. On hearing him, they were excited and promised to give him money. So Judas started planning the best way to hand Jesus over to them.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day when the Passover Lamb was killed, disciples asked Him, “Where would you have us to go to prepare the Passover meal for You?” So Jesus sent two of His disciples with these instructions, “Go into the city, and there, a man will come to you carrying a jar of water.”

“Follow him to the house he enters and say to the owner, ‘The Master says, Where is the room where I may eat the Passover meal with My disciples?’ Then He will show you a large room upstairs, already arranged and furnished. There, you will prepare for us.”

The disciples went off. When they reached the city, they found everything just as Jesus had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were at table eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, one of you will betray Me, one who shares My meal.”

They were deeply distressed at hearing this and asked Him, one after the other, “You do not mean me, do You?” And Jesus answered, “It is one of you Twelve, one who dips his bread in the dish with Me. The Son of Man is going as the Scriptures say He will. But alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed; better for him if he had never been born.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them. And He said, “Take this. It is My Body.” Then He took a cup, and after He had given thanks, He passed it to them and they all drank from it. And He said, “This is My Blood, the Blood of the Covenant, poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not taste the fruit of the vine again, until that day when I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.”

After singing psalms of praise, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “All of you will be dismayed and fall away; for the Scripture says : I will strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered. But after I am raised, I will go to Galilee ahead of you.”

Then Peter said to Him, “Even though all the others fall away, I will not.” And Jesus replied, “Truly I say to you, today, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” But Peter insisted, “Though I have to die with You, I will never deny You.” And all of them said the same.

They came to a place which is called Gethsemane; and Jesus said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” But He took Peter, James and John along with Him, and, becoming filled with fear and distress, He said to them, “My soul is full of sorrow, even to death. Remain here and stay awake.”

Then He went a little further on and fell on the ground, praying that, if possible, this hour might pass Him by. Jesus said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Yet, not what I want, but what You want.” Then He came and found them asleep; and He said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not stay awake for one hour? Stay awake and pray, all of you, so that you may not slip into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the body is weak.”

And, going away, He prayed, saying the same words. When He came back to the disciples, He found them asleep again. They could not keep their eyes open; and they did not know what to say to Him. When He came back the third time, He said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is all over, the time has come : the Son of Man is now given into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us go! Look : the one who betrays Me is approaching.”

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, came up. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, who had been sent by the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the elders. The traitor had arranged a signal for them, “The One I kiss, He is the Man. Arrest Him, and take Him away under guard.”

So, when He came, He went directly to Jesus, and said, “Master! Master!” and kissed Him. Then they seized Jesus and arrested Him. One of the bystanders drew his sword and struck out at the High Priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. Jesus turned to them and said, “So, you have set out against a robber! Did you need swords and clubs to arrest Me? Day after day, I was among you, teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest Me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.”

Then they all deserted Him and fled. A young man, covered by nothing but a linen cloth, followed Jesus. When they took hold of him, he left the cloth in their hands and fled away naked. They led Jesus to the High Priest; and all the chief priests assembled, with the elders and the teachers of the Law. Peter had followed Him at a distance; and went right into the courtyard of the High Priest, where he sat with the guards, warming himself at the fire.

Now the chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some evidence against Jesus so that they might put Him to death; but they were unable to find anything. Even though many came up to speak falsely against Him, their evidence did not agree. At last, some stood up and gave this false witness : “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made by human hands, and, in three days, I will build another, not made by human hands.” But even so, their evidence did not agree.

The High Priest then stood up in the midst of them and asked Jesus, “Have You no answer at all? What about this evidence against You?” But Jesus was silent and made no reply. The High Priest put a second question to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” Then Jesus answered, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Most Powerful, and coming with the clouds of heaven around Him.”

Then the High Priest, tearing his garments to show his horror, said, “What more evidence do we need? You have just heard His blasphemous words. What is your decision?” They all condemned Jesus, saying, “He must die.” Some of them began to spit on Jesus; and, blindfolding Him, they struck Him and said, “Play the prophet!” And the guards set upon Him with blows.

While Peter was below, in the courtyard, a servant girl of the High Priest came by. Noticing Peter beside the fire, she looked straight at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the Nazarene.” But he denied it, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” And he went out through the gateway, and a cock crowed.

The servant girl saw him there and told the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But Peter denied it again. After a little while, those standing nearby said to Peter, “Of course you are one of them; you are a Galilean, are you not?” And Peter began to justify himself with curses and oaths, “I do not know the Man you are talking about.”

Just then a cock crowed a second time, and Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Early in the morning, the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the Law (that is, the whole Council or Sanhedrin) had their plan ready. They put Jesus in chains, led Him away and handed Him over to Pilate. Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “You say so.” As the chief priests accused Jesus of many things, Pilate asked Him again, “Have You no answer at all? See how many charges they bring against You.”

But Jesus gave no further answers, much to Pilate’s surprise. At every Passover festival, Pilate used to free any prisoner the people asked for. Now there was a man called Barabbas, jailed with the rioters who had committed murder in the uprising. When the crowd went up to ask Pilate the usual favour, he said to them, “Do you want me to set free the King of the Jews?” for he realised that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him out of envy.

But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask, instead, for the release of Barabbas. Pilate replied, “And what shall I do with the Man you call King of the Jews?” The crowd shouted back, “Crucify Him!” Pilate asked, “What evil has He done?” But they shouted the louder, “Crucify Him!”

As Pilate wanted to please the people, He freed Barabbas, and, having had Jesus flogged, Pilate handed Him over to be crucified. The soldiers took Him inside the courtyard, known as the Praetorium, and called the rest of their companions. They clothed Him in a purple cloak, and twisting a crown of thorns, they forced it onto His head. Then they began saluting Him, “Long life to the King of the Jews!” With a stick they gave Him blows on the head and spat on Him; then they knelt down, pretending to worship Him.

When they had finished mocking Him, they pulled off the purple cloak and put His own clothes on Him. The soldiers led Him out of the city to crucify Him. On the way, they met Simon of Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus, who was coming in from the country; and forced him to carry the cross of Jesus. When they had led Him to the place called Golgotha, which means the Skull, they offered Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He would not take it.

Then they nailed Him to the cross, and divided His clothes among themselves, casting lots to decide what every man should take. It was about nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified Him. The statements of His offence was displayed above His head, and it read, “The King of the Jews.” They also crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. And the Scripture was fulfilled which says : ‘And with lawless ones He was numbered.’

People passing by laughed at Him, shook their heads and jeered, “Aha! So, You are able to tear down the Temple and build it up in three days? Save Yourself now, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the Law mocked Him, saying to one another, “The Man Who saved others cannot save Himself. Let us see the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from His cross, and then we will believe in Him.” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus insulted Him.

When noon came, darkness fell over the whole land and lasted until three o’clock; and at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You deserted Me?” As soon as they heard these words, some of the bystanders said, “Listen! He is calling for Elijah.” And one of them went quickly to fill a sponge with bitter wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to Him to drink, saying, “Now let us see whether Elijah comes to take Him down.”

But Jesus uttered a loud cry and gave up His Spirit. And immediately, the curtain that enclosed the Temple Sanctuary was torn in two, from top to bottom. The captain, who was standing in front of Him, saw how Jesus died and heard the cry He gave; and he said, “Truly, this Man was the Son of God.”

There were also some women watching from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome, who had followed Jesus when He was in Galilee and saw to His needs. There were also others who had come up with Him to Jerusalem.

It was now evening, and, as it was Preparation Day, that is the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea boldly went to Pilate and asked for the Body of Jesus. Joseph was a respected member of the Council, who was, himself, waiting for the kingdom of God. Pilate was surprised that Jesus should have died so soon; so he summoned the captain and inquired if Jesus was already dead. After hearing the captain, he let Joseph have the Body.

Joseph took it down and wrapped it in the linen sheet he had brought. He laid the Body in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock, and rolled a stone across the entrance to the tomb. Now Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of Joses took note of where the Body had been laid.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Mark 15 : 1-39

Early in the morning, the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the Law (that is, the whole Council or Sanhedrin) had their plan ready. They put Jesus in chains, led Him away and handed Him over to Pilate. Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “You say so.” As the chief priests accused Jesus of many things, Pilate asked Him again, “Have You no answer at all? See how many charges they bring against You.”

But Jesus gave no further answers, much to Pilate’s surprise. At every Passover festival, Pilate used to free any prisoner the people asked for. Now there was a man called Barabbas, jailed with the rioters who had committed murder in the uprising. When the crowd went up to ask Pilate the usual favour, he said to them, “Do you want me to set free the King of the Jews?” for he realised that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him out of envy.

But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask, instead, for the release of Barabbas. Pilate replied, “And what shall I do with the Man you call King of the Jews?” The crowd shouted back, “Crucify Him!” Pilate asked, “What evil has He done?” But they shouted the louder, “Crucify Him!”

As Pilate wanted to please the people, He freed Barabbas, and, having had Jesus flogged, Pilate handed Him over to be crucified. The soldiers took Him inside the courtyard, known as the Praetorium, and called the rest of their companions. They clothed Him in a purple cloak, and twisting a crown of thorns, they forced it onto His head. Then they began saluting Him, “Long life to the King of the Jews!” With a stick they gave Him blows on the head and spat on Him; then they knelt down, pretending to worship Him.

When they had finished mocking Him, they pulled off the purple cloak and put His own clothes on Him. The soldiers led Him out of the city to crucify Him. On the way, they met Simon of Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus, who was coming in from the country; and forced him to carry the cross of Jesus. When they had led Him to the place called Golgotha, which means the Skull, they offered Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He would not take it.

Then they nailed Him to the cross, and divided His clothes among themselves, casting lots to decide what every man should take. It was about nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified Him. The statements of His offence was displayed above His head, and it read, “The King of the Jews.” They also crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. And the Scripture was fulfilled which says : ‘And with lawless ones He was numbered.’

People passing by laughed at Him, shook their heads and jeered, “Aha! So, You are able to tear down the Temple and build it up in three days? Save Yourself now, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the Law mocked Him, saying to one another, “The Man Who saved others cannot save Himself. Let us see the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from His cross, and then we will believe in Him.” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus insulted Him.

When noon came, darkness fell over the whole land and lasted until three o’clock; and at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You deserted Me?” As soon as they heard these words, some of the bystanders said, “Listen! He is calling for Elijah.” And one of them went quickly to fill a sponge with bitter wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to Him to drink, saying, “Now let us see whether Elijah comes to take Him down.”

But Jesus uttered a loud cry and gave up His Spirit. And immediately, the curtain that enclosed the Temple Sanctuary was torn in two, from top to bottom. The captain, who was standing in front of Him, saw how Jesus died and heard the cry He gave; and he said, “Truly, this Man was the Son of God.”

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, 9 April 2020 : 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, 9 April 2020 : 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.