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, 14 April 2022 : 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, 14 April 2022 : 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.

Thursday, 14 April 2022 : 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.

Thursday, 14 April 2022 : 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.”

Sunday, 6 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 14 : 12-16, 22-26

At that time, on the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day when the Passover Lamb was killed, the disciples asked Him, “Where would You have us 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. 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.

Thursday, 3 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 14 : 12-16, 22-26

At that time, on the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day when the Passover Lamb was killed, the disciples asked Him, “Where would You have us 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. 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.

Saturday, 22 May 2021 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 21 : 20-25

At that time, Peter looked back and saw that the disciple Jesus loved was following as well, the one who had reclined close to Jesus at the supper, and had asked Him, “Lord, who is to betray You?”

On seeing him, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain until Income, does that concern you? Follow Me!” Because of this the rumour spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, “He will not die,” but, “Suppose I want him to remain until I come.”

It is this disciple who testifies about the things he has written here, and we know that his testimony is true. But Jesus did many other things; if all were written down, I think the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.

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.”