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, 18 April 2019 : 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, 18 April 2019 : 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, 18 April 2019 : 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, 18 April 2019 : 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.”

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.

Thursday, 29 March 2018 : Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Holy Thursday (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.”