Friday, 7 April 2023 : Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today marks the occasion of Good Friday, the day when the Lord suffered and died for us all. It was on this day over two millennia ago that the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Saviour of the whole world took up His Cross, embarked on the way of His suffering and eventually dying on the Cross for our sake. This is truly a ‘Good’ Friday because without everything that the Lord had done for us, we would have no hope out of the darkness of our lives, and we would not have enjoyed the assurance of God’s love and grace which He has poured down generously upon us and shown us through Christ, His Son, Whose death on the Cross is the everlasting sign of His undying and most generous love, His ever enduring love and commitment towards all that He has promised to us, to the Covenant He had made with us.

Continuing from the discourse of Holy Thursday, we must realise that the whole Easter Triduum is one great celebration that cannot be separated from each other. On Holy Thursday yesterday, as we commemorate the Lord’s Last Supper with His disciples, His institution of the Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood, we are reminded that what the Lord had said at that Last Supper, as He broke and shared His Body and Blood to His disciples, with the words, ‘Take and eat, this is My Body which has been given up for you.’ and ‘Take and drink, this is the chalice of My Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal Covenant which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.’, all of these came to completion with the Passion, the suffering and crucifixion of Our Lord Himself on this Good Friday. What began on Holy Thursday, the great Passover feast, was accomplished on the Cross, just as the Lord Himself said at the end, ‘It is accomplished!’

Like the Jewish Passover of old, when the Lord told His people, the Israelites, to take a one year old young, unblemished lamb and to sacrifice it on the fourteenth day of the first month of the Jewish calendar, the month of Nisan, therefore, the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb, also took it upon Himself, to offer Himself as the Lamb to be slaughtered, on the day of preparation just before the Passover, which was on Good Friday itself. As it is noted at the end of our Gospel reading of the Passion today that the crucifixion ended when the Jewish people were on the eve of their Passover, it was truly not a coincidence that the Lord suffered, was crucified and died at the exact same time when the Passover lamb was to be slaughtered and sacrificed, for the liberation of the people of God from their enslavement and domination by the Egyptians. That is because by His offering of Himself as the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice, the perfect offering, He has become for us the same source of liberation from the tyranny, dominion and enslavement by sin and death.

The Lord willingly did all of these because of His great love for each one of us. Everything had been prepared and foretold in advance, but no one could have predicted the extent to which the Lord was willing to go in order to save us all. Instead of sending a mere prophet or messenger to complete everything that He has willed to happen, the Lord chose to embrace us Himself, by coming down upon us, to dwell in our midst and being incarnate in the flesh, walking amongst us in the form of a Man. That was what the Lord had foretold and spoken through His prophets and messengers, veiled from the fullness of truth and understanding until everything had come to pass. From our perspective, we who have received the fullness of God’s truth, we have seen the truth revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Who has come to us, and willingly embraced and took up upon Himself the full burden of the Cross, all the sins and wickedness we have committed, and the punishments associated with them, to bear them Himself, to the hill of Calvary.

As we have heard in our first reading today, everything happened just as the Lord had revealed it to us through His prophets. The prophet Isaiah had spoken particularly a lot about the Messiah or Saviour Who was to come into the world, revealing that He would be born through the Woman, the Holy Virgin that God would appoint, and everything indeed came true with Mary and her miraculous conception and birth of Our Lord Jesus. The Lord has also come into our midst, willingly becoming the Man to be humbled, humiliated and crushed, to be burdened and pushed to endure the great sufferings and persecutions for the sake of all of us, His beloved ones. As we heard from the prophet Isaiah, the Holy One of God would be broken for us, crushed for us and be destroyed so that by His suffering and pains, His sorrows and wounds, all of us would be healed. As Isaiah said, this Man would bear upon Himself all of our punishments and sorrows, so that by His brokenness and sorrows, His wounds and hardships, all of us would be healed from our own hardships and wounds.

Then, there was also that clear allusion and reference to the lamb being slaughtered, referring to the Passover lamb, and in this case, the Lord Jesus Himself, as the Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb Who takes away the sins of the whole world. By His wounds and the broken Body, the outpoured Blood, all of which He has done freely and most generously out of love for all of us, He has shown us the path to eternal life and true joy with Him. That is what Good Friday is all about, the love of God made Man, and His love manifested and shown to us, by His willing embrace of suffering and death, to suffer our punishments and trials for our sake, loving us most selflessly and generously despite of our constant and frequent rebelliousness and wickedness, everything that we have always done in spite of His love and compassion, His kindness and patience all these while. On this Good Friday, we remember especially Christ our Lord, our Saviour, Whose kindness and compassion towards us has opened for us the path to true happiness, and which is why this day is a truly a ‘Good’ day.

However, on this day, we have to better appreciate everything that the Lord had done for us. Too often we mankind have ignored the Lord, rejected and spurned His love, refused to listen to Him and being difficult in resisting His many efforts to reach out to us with love and kindness. Through His Son, God has reestablished with us, the connection that was once lost for us due to sin, the connection that we have to God, our loving Father and Creator. For Christ through His Cross has made a Bridge that linked us all with God, as a Bridge that crossed the uncrossable and infinite chasm existing between Him and all of us due to sin. Sin has caused us to be sundered and separated from God, and we have been cast out of Eden and God’s Presence because of our pride, greed and desires, everything that we did in rejecting His generous love. But God’s love for us endured still, and that is why He sent us His Son, and through Whom we have received the guarantee and assurance of salvation and eternal life.

He established with us a new and eternal Covenant, sealed by His own Most Precious Blood, and by the offering and sacrifice of His own Most Precious Body, as a most worthy sacrifice, allowed Himself to be betrayed and rejected by His own people, and even by one of those closest to Him, that by uniting His sufferings and hardships to ours, He might raise us all up from the depth of our downfall due to sin, and bring us back to Himself. Through His perfect obedience to the will of His heavenly Father, Christ showed us as the Son of Man, how we ourselves should be like in our way of life and in our actions. He showed us all perfect love, both for God, His Father and also for all of us, His own brothers and sisters, by the shared humanity that He has embraced us with. He Himself has told us that the most important Law and Commandments are to love God with all of our heart, with all of our strength and might, and that we should do the same to our fellow brethren as well. That was exactly what He had done for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we commemorate the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Saviour and King, let us all focus our attention on the Cross of Christ, and remember all that He had done for us, the love of God made Man, manifest and tangible for us. Let us all remember everything that God had done for us as we look upon the Cross. On that Cross hung the salvation of the whole world, our entire Hope and the Light that pierced through the darkness of sin and the wickedness of this world, leading us all towards righteousness in God. And as we look upon the Cross, let us all affix our gaze upon the Lord, Whose own gaze was affixed at all of us, and let us all remember how He prayed even for those who have persecuted and condemned Him to death. We often forget the fact that Christ died for everyone, even for all those who have hated and persecuted Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is indeed very easy for us to point our fingers to blame Judas Iscariot, those chief priests and Pharisees and everyone else who have been involved in the Passion, the suffering and death of Our Lord. However, do we all actually realise that we are all just as great sinners as they were too? Do we all realise that we ourselves have also often betrayed the Lord, rejected and abandoned Him for worldly things, matters and attachments that we had? Do we realise just how often we refused to listen to the Lord and preferred instead to listen to the lies and falsehoods of the devil, embracing all sorts of temptations and pressures from the world, doing what were wicked and evil in the presence of God? Today, as we look upon the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, let us all spend the precious time to look deep within ourselves, and see in what way our actions and way of life had caused hurt and pain towards the Lord.

Let us all not forget that all of the wounds and pain suffered by the Lord, are all of our sins, our evils, wickedness and unworthy actions, words and deeds. Each and every one of our iniquities are what causing the Lord all the wounds and hurts He experienced. As we recall the reading of Our Lord’s Passion, everything that He had done for our sake, let us be abashed and humbled, and reminded of just how wicked and sinful we had been. Let us commit ourselves to follow the Lord faithfully once again, and reject the wickedness of the world. Let us all seek the Lord with all of our might and focus our attention on Him, remembering His Passion and His love for us, which He has given us most generously from His Cross. And as we behold the Holy Cross of Christ, let us all remember that through the Cross, all of us have been brought into triumph in the great struggle against sin, evil and death.

Now, let us all continue our faithful observance of the Easter Triduum, by keeping our focus on the Lord, our Crucified Christ, Who has died for us. Let us always remember that He did not remain in death, but rose gloriously in His Resurrection, conquering and defeating death in His wake. Through Christ, let us all therefore come ever closer to God and His salvation, and may all of us continue to grow ever stronger in faith and commitment, in our desire to love God and to follow Him wholeheartedly at all times. May all of us be exemplary Christians, as good and faithful disciples of Our Lord at all times. May God bless us always, continue to love us and grant us His grace. Amen.

Friday, 7 April 2023 : Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 18 : 1 – John 19 : 42

At that time, when Jesus had finished speaking, He went with His disciples to the other side of the Kidron Valley. There was a garden there, which Jesus entered with His disciples. Now Judas, who betrayed Him, knew the place, since Jesus had often met there with His disciples. So Judas took soldiers and some servants from the chief priests and Pharisees, and they went to the garden with lanterns, torches and weapons.

Jesus knew all that was going to happen to Him; He stepped forward and asked, “Who are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus said, “I am He.” Judas, who betrayed Him, stood there with them. When Jesus said, “I am He,” they moved back and fell to the ground. He then asked a second time, “Who are you looking for?” and they answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus replied, “I told you that I am He. If you are looking for Me, let these others go.” So what Jesus had said came true : “I have not lost one of those you gave Me.”

Simon Peter had a sword; he drew it and struck Malchus, the High Priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given Me?”

The guards and the soldiers, with their commander, seized Jesus and bound Him; and they took Him first to Annas. Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the High Priest that year; and it was Caiaphas who had told the Jews, “It is better that one Man should die for the people.”

Simon Peter with another disciple followed Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the High Priest, they let him enter the courtyard of the High Priest along with Jesus, but Peter had to stay outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the High Priest, went out and spoke to the maidservant at the gate and brought Peter in.

Then this maidservant on duty at the door said to Peter, “So you also are one of His disciples?” But he answered, “I am not.” Now the servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire and were standing and warming themselves, because it was cold. Peter was also with them warming himself.

The High Priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in places where the Jews meet together, either at the assemblies in synagogues or in the Temple. I did not teach secretly. Why then do you question Me? Ask those who heard Me, they know what I said.”

At this reply one of the guards standing there gave Jesus a blow on the face, saying, “Is that the way to answer the High Priest?” Jesus said to him, “If I have spoken wrongly, point it out; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike Me?” Then Annas sent Him, bound, to Caiaphas, the High Priest.

Now Simon Peter stood there warming himself. They said to him, “Surely you also are one of His disciples.” He denied it, and answered, “I am not.” One of the High Priest’s servants, a kinsman of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you with Him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at once the cock crowed.

Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the headquarters of the Roman governor. It was now morning. The Jews did not go inside, lest they be made unclean by entering the house of a pagan, and therefore not allowed to eat the Passover meal. So Pilate came out and asked, “What charge do you bring against this Man?”

They answered, “If He were not a criminal, we would not be handing Him over to you.” Pilate said, “Take Him yourselves and judge Him according to your own law.” But they replied, “We ourselves are not allowed to put anyone to death.” It was clear from this what kind of death Jesus was to die, according to what Jesus Himself had foretold.

Pilate then entered the court again, called Jesus and asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “Does this word come from you, or did you hear it from others?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed You over to me. What have You done?”

Jesus answered, “My kingship does not come from this world. If I were a King, like those of this world, My guards would have fought to save Me from being handed over to the Jews. But My Kingship is not of this world.” Pilate asked Him, “So You are a King?” And Jesus answered, “Just as you say, I am a King. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of truth hears My voice.” Pilate said, “What is truth?”

Pilate then went out to the Jews again and said, “I find no crime in this Man. Now, according to custom, I must release a prisoner to you at the Passover. With your agreement I will release to you the King of the Jews.” But they insisted and cried out, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.”

Then Pilate had Jesus taken away and scourged. The soldiers also twisted thorns into a crown and put it on His head. They threw a cloak of royal purple around His shoulders; and they began coming up to Him and saluting Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him on the face.

Pilate went outside yet another time and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing Him out, and I want you to know that I find no crime in Him.” Jesus then came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak and Pilate pointed to Him, saying, “Here is the Man!”

On seeing Him the chief priests and the guards cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate replied, “Take Him yourselves and have Him crucified, for I find no case against Him.” The Jews then said, “We have a Law, and according to the Law this Man must die because He made Himself Son of God.”

When Pilate heard this he was more afraid. And coming back into the court he asked Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “You will not speak to me? Do You not know that I have power to release You, just as I have power to crucify You?”

Jesus replied, “You would have no power over Me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed Me over to you is more guilty.” From that moment Pilate tried to release Him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who makes Himself a King is defying Caesar.”

When Pilate heard this, he had Jesus brought outside to the place called the Stone Floor – in Hebrew Gabbatha – and sat down in the judgment seat. It was the day of preparation for the Passover, about noon. Pilate said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” But they cried out, “Away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!” Pilate replied, “Shall I crucify your King?” And the chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

Then Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified. They took charge of Him. Bearing His own cross, Jesus went out of the city to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew Golgotha. There He was crucified, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus in the middle.

Pilate had a notice written and fastened to the cross, which read : Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews. Many Jewish people saw this title, because the place where Jesus was crucified was very close to the city; and the title was written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. The chief priests said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews’; but, ‘This Man claimed to be King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered them, “What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and divided them into four parts, one part for each of them. But as the tunic was woven in one piece from top to bottom, they said, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots to decide who will get it.” This fulfilled the words of Scripture : They divided My clothing among them; they cast lots for My garment. This was what the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleophas, and Mary of Magdala, when Jesus saw the mother, and the disciple whom He loved, He said to the mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “There is your mother.” And from that moment the disciple took her to his own home.

Jesus knew all was now finished and, in order to fulfil what was written in Scripture, He said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of bitter wine stood there; so, putting a sponge soaked in the wine on a twig of hyssop, they raised it to His lips. Jesus took the wine and said, “It is accomplished.” Then He bowed His head and gave up the Spirit.

As it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so that the bodies might be taken away. The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man, who had been crucified with Jesus.

When they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a lance, and immediately there came out Blood and water. The one who saw it, has testified to it, and his testimony is true; he knows he speaks the truth, so that you also might believe. All this happened to fulfil the words of Scripture : Not one of His bones shall be broken. Another text says : They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea approached Pilate, for he was a disciple of Jesus, though secretly, for fear of the Jews. And he asked Pilate to let him remove the Body of Jesus. Pilate agreed, so he came and took away the Body. Nicodemus, the man who at first had come to Jesus by night, also came and brought a jar of myrrh mixed with aloes, about a hundred pounds. They took the Body of Jesus and wrapped it in linen cloths with the spices, following the burial customs of the Jews.

There was a garden in the place where Jesus had been crucified, and, in the garden, a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And therefore, because the sepulchre was nearby, and the Jewish day of preparation was coming to a close, they placed the Body of Jesus there.

Friday, 7 April 2023 : Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Hebrews 4 : 14-16 and Hebrews 5 : 7-9

We have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God, Who has entered heaven. Let us, then, hold fast to the faith we profess. Our High Priest is not indifferent to our weaknesses, for He was tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sinning. Let us, then, with confidence approach the throne of grace; we will obtain mercy and, through His favour, help in due time.

Christ, in the days of His mortal life, offered His sacrifice with tears and cries. He prayed to Him Who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His humble submission. Although He was Son, He learnt through suffering what obedience was, and once made perfect, He became the Source of eternal salvation for those who obey Him.

Friday, 7 April 2023 : Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 30 : 2 and 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17 and 25

In You, o Lord, I take refuge, may I never be disgraced; deliver Me in Your justice. Into Your hands I commend My Spirit; You have redeemed Me, o Lord, faithful God.

I have become an object of reproach for My foes, a horror for My neighbours, a fear to My friends. Those who see Me in the streets flee from Me. I am like the dead, unremembered; I have become like a broken pot, thrown away, discarded.

But I put My trust in You, o Lord, I said : “You are My God;” My days are in Your hand. Deliver Me from the hand of My enemies, from those after My skin.

Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save Me in Your love. Be strong and take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.

Friday, 7 April 2023 : Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Isaiah 52 : 13 – Isaiah 53 : 12

It is now when My Servant will succeed; He will be exalted and highly praised. Just as many have been horrified at His disfigured appearance : “Is this a Man? He does not look like One.” So will nations be astounded, kings will stand speechless, for they will see something never told, they will witness something never heard of.

Who could believe what we have heard, and to whom has YHVH revealed His feat? Like a root out of dry ground, like a sapling He grew up before us, with nothing attractive in His appearance, no beauty, no majesty. He was despised and rejected, a Man of sorrows familiar with grief, a Man from Whom people hide their face, spurned and considered of no account.

Yet ours were the sorrows He bore, ours were the suffering He endured, although we considered Him as One punished by God, stricken and brought low. Destroyed because of our sins, He was crushed for our wickedness. Through His punishment we are made whole; by His wounds we are healed. Like sheep we had all gone astray, each following His own way; but YHVH laid upon Him all our guilt.

He was harshly treated, but unresisting and silent, He humbly submitted. Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearer He did not open His mouth. He was taken away to detention and judgment – what an unthinkable fate! He was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for His people’s sins. They made His tomb with the wicked, they put Him in the graveyard of the oppressors, though He had done no violence nor spoken in deceit.

Yet it was the will of YHVH to crush Him with grief. When He makes Himself an offering for sin, He will have a long life and see His descendants. Through Him the will of YHVH is done. For the anguish He suffered, He will see the light and obtain perfect knowledge. My just Servant will justify the multitude; He will bear and take away their guilt.

Therefore I will give Him His portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong. For He surrendered Himself to death and was even counted among the wicked, bearing the sins of the multitude and interceding for sinners.

Thursday, 6 April 2023 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today on this evening all of us are gathered together as the whole Church to commemorate the beginning of Easter or Paschal Triduum with this Mass of the Lord’s Supper, marking the moment when the Lord Jesus Christ had the last meal with His disciples just before the beginning of His Passion, which refers to His suffering and death. This night as we gather together as the Church, all of us remember that night when the Lord gathered His disciples to eat the Passover meal with them, and in that occasion, He also gave them the new mandate and commandment, which is why today is also known as Maundy Thursday, for this new ‘Mandatum’ that He told all of His disciples to do, to be servants and ministers of the people of God, and also to obey God’s will. In that same occasion therefore, the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist and also the institution of priesthood.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Exodus in which the account of the Exodus of the Israelites from the land of Egypt was read, and how the Lord instructed His people to have their very first Passover in the land of Egypt, marking the moment when the Lord brought His tenth and final plague against the Egyptians and their Pharaoh for their stubbornness and refusal to let the people of Israel go free. The Lord therefore sent His greatest plague upon the Egyptians, that He would kill all of their firstborn, from the Pharaoh’s firstborn right down to that of the lowest among the Egyptians. But the same plague of death did not affect the Israelites for God has ‘passed over’ them and their houses, because they followed the Lord’s instruction, for them to prepare an unblemished lamb, and then mark their houses with the blood from that slaughtered lamb, and which meat was eaten by the families on that Passover night.

We may wonder why this particular reading from the first Passover in Egypt was read as our first reading today, but this in fact highlighted the clear link and parallel between the original Passover that were celebrated each year afterwards as the Jewish Passover or the Seder, and the new Passover, our Christian Passover that superseded the old Passover, revealing the true intention of the Lord for us all. That is because just as the Lord has rescued His people Israel from their enslavement in the land of Egypt, from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh in the original Passover, and thus, the new, Christian Passover is the representation of God’s desire to rescue all of His people, and not just the Israelites, from the tyranny of sin, and from their enslavement to sin and death. The first Passover was the precursor and prefigurement of the Lord’s grand plan of salvation for all of us mankind.

If we look at the Passover of the Israelites, the Lord instructed them all to choose an unblemished young lamb to be slaughtered and then its blood to be painted upon the doors of their houses, to mark those houses so that the Angels of the Lord would ‘pass over’ them as they scourged the whole land of Egypt and destroyed all the firstborn of the Egyptians. In the same way therefore, the Lord has sent us all His own Son, to be the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice, the most worthy of all offerings and sacrifices, far surpassing the offering of worldly lambs and animals, and One Who is truly spotless and blameless, all perfection and good within Him. Then, just as the Passover lamb was kept and prepared and eventually slaughtered on the day of the Passover, the same thing happened to the Lord, the Paschal Lamb, Who embarked on His own Passover journey, becoming the One to be slaughtered and at the same time also as the One Who offered on behalf of everyone, the perfect and worthy offering to God.

In the Last Supper, as we heard from our second reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, we listened to how the Lord conducted the Passover meal in a most curious and distinct way. That Last Supper was indeed a Passover meal structured around the Jewish Passover, as it was mentioned that the Lord wanted to have a Passover meal with His disciples, but what is interesting is that, if we notice, unlike the central presence of the Passover lamb in the usual Jewish Passover, as we heard from our reading from the Book of Exodus, at the Last Supper, the Passover lamb was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the Lord Himself took the centre stage, and as He prayed and broke the bread over His disciples, He passed the bread to them while telling them that the bread is His Body, broken and shared for them to partake and eat. He did the same with the wine, which He passed to them as the chalice of His Blood, shared and outpoured for them to drink and partake as well.

Obviously, as we can see, the Lord Himself is the Paschal Lamb, Who was to be offered and slaughtered at the Altar of His Cross. However, at the time of the Last Supper, no one present except the Lord Himself could have understood what was happening. It was likely only afterwards that the Lord’s disciples realised everything that had happened, and how all that He had done at the Last Supper was a revelation of what He Himself would have to suffer on the next day after on Good Friday. Then, if we look upon the events of the Easter Triduum, what many of us might not have realised is that, everything that happened is one great liturgy and celebration, of the great Sacrifice that Our Lord offered on our behalf, as the Paschal Lamb, the Lamb of God, offered and slaughtered on the moment of His Passion at Calvary. His broken and shared Body and Blood, have been broken and outpoured for our salvation. That is why, the Church does not celebrate any Mass on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, with tonight’s Mass being the same sacrifice that encompass the whole of Easter Triduum.

Historically, the Last Supper was also known as an incomplete Passover, as according to the Jewish customs, there are four cups of wine that ought to be drunk at the occasion of the Passover. However, according to the Apostolic tradition, Scriptural and historical evidence, the Lord and some of His disciples, St. Peter, St. James and St. John left for the Gardens of Gethsemane, where the Lord Jesus prayed in agony in tears and sweat of Blood as He agonised over all the sufferings and hardships that He would have to endure very soon. But the Passover meal was not yet complete, and this is another hint that, what the Lord would have to go through in His Passion, is part of the whole entire Passover, the moment when He offered Himself, His Most Precious Body and His Most Precious Blood, for the salvation of all mankind, for the atonement and the reconciliation of all of us with God, His Heavenly Father, Who is our Lord, Master and Creator.

That is why, tonight, as all of us gather together to commemorate that night when the Lord embarked on His Passion, beginning with the final and most important phase in His mission to save all of us from eternal damnation and destruction, we are all reminded of God’s most amazing and enduring love for each and every one of us, which He has shown to us through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We remember that moment when the Lord instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, offering Himself, His own Most Precious Body and Most Precious Blood freely and willingly for our sake. By His sharing of His Body and Blood, and by our partaking in the Eucharist, the Lord has united us all to Himself, and by embracing us fully and wholeheartedly, taking up upon Himself all of our sins and faults, He has opened for us the gates of eternal life, freedom and liberation from the tyranny of sin and death. That is because if the blood of the Passover lamb had marked the Israelites as a people free from the enslavement and domination of the Egyptians, thus, all of us, who have been marked by the Blood of the Lamb of God, through the Eucharist, have received the mark from the Lord, the mark of salvation and freedom from sin.

Now, what all of us need to ask ourselves is that, do we heed what the Lord Himself has told His disciples, as we heard in our Gospel passage today. As we heard how the Lord humbled Himself and went to wash the feet of His disciples, the job usually done by slaves and servants, He has shown us all what each and every one of us as Christians should be doing in our lives. As those whom God had called and chosen from the darkness of this world, and freed from the tyranny of sin, all of us are called to a new existence, one that is blessed and graced by God. Tonight’s celebration is a reminder that as we enter into this most solemn and holy period in which we recall everything that God Himself had done for us, from His ever enduring and great love, all of us should dedicate ourselves to the Lord anew, to follow Him and obey Him, His Law and commandments just as He had told His disciples to do.

As He ‘mandated’ for them to do, all of us are called to live our lives worthily and virtuously as all Christians should, and each one of us are reminded that we should not seek personal glory and gratification, but instead be focused on the Lord and be like Him in how He loved His Father and each one of us, in His humility and commitment to us, so that all of us may also be like Him, and be good role models and examples of faith to one another. All of us have been given the great gift and grace from God Himself, Who has willingly offered and sacrificed Himself, as the Paschal Lamb, so that we may be fully and completely reconciled with God, and find the sure path to eternal life and true joy with Him. Let us all therefore discern these carefully, particularly as we enter into this Easter Triduum and deepen our focus on the Lord Jesus, His Passion, suffering and death on the Cross, all for our sake.

Let us all be exemplary in our way of life and resolutely reject sin and all of the wickedness found all around us, as the mark of our obedience and our adherence to the path that the Lord has shown us. If we truly believe in the Lord and have faith in Him, then naturally we should strive our best to be worthy of Him, to do what is right and just in accordance to what He Himself has shown and taught us to do. As Christians, we should not be people of empty or shallow faith, but we must really ‘walk the talk’, in being sincere in loving God and in loving our fellow brothers and sisters, and in doing what God had told us to do. The mandatum or commandment that He has given to us is a reminder that each and every one of us as members of God’s Church have particular responsibilities and calling in our own lives, to do what we can so that we may inspire more and more people to come to believe in God as well, because they have seen God and His truth in us, in our actions and way of living. This is what we are reminded today, on this Holy Thursday evening, as we embark into the Easter Triduum and the culmination of our Lenten exercise and observance.

May the Lord, our most loving God and Saviour continue to be with us, guiding us and strengthening us in our journey of faith, so that our every experiences and moments, especially during this Holy Week and Easter Triduum, be most enriching and inspirational, in allowing us to come ever closer to Him and to His salvation. May God be with us always and may He bless our days, our Easter Triduum, the upcoming Easter season and our lives beyond. May He bless our every good efforts and endeavours, and bless our loved ones all around us. Wishing all of us a most blessed Easter Triduum, brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.

Thursday, 6 April 2023 : 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, 6 April 2023 : 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, 6 April 2023 : 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, 6 April 2023 : 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.”