As they were eating Jesus took bread and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. "Take it, he said, this is my body." Then he took a cup and when he had given thanks he handed it to them and all drank from it and he said to them, "This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many. In truth I tell you, I shall never drink wine any more until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God." (Mark 14:22-25)
The Church dedicates this day to those last hours which our Lord spent on earth and gratefully recalls the gift beyond all price, the legacy of his love, the gift of the Eucharist, which he bequeathed to his Bride. It is the feast of his last will and testament, the abiding pledge of his love, "As the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you, Abide in My love.....This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:9,12-13)
In John's gospel we see how Jesus enforces his words "love one another as I have loved you" by his example. He, the Lord and Master, girds himself with a towel and proceeds to wash and dry the feet of his disciples in order to teach them to render the same service to one another in humble and eager affection.
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments again he went back to the table. "Do you understand", he said, "what I have done to you" You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you must wash each other's feet. I have given you an example so that you may do what I have done to you."
He then left to make his way as usual to the Mount of Olives, with the disciples following. When he reached the place he said to them, "Pray not to be put to the test." Then he withdrew from them, about a stone's throw away, and knelt down and prayed. "Father, he said, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine." Then an angel appeared to him, coming from heaven to give him strength. In his anguish he prayed even more earnestly and his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.
The Church, the Bride of Christ, lingers over these hours, gratefully honoring Our Lord as He leaves us the legacy of His love in the Holy Eucharist.
Holy Thursday helps us realize that we receive the living Bread that has come down from heaven, from a table which is first of all an altar. Like the Israelites of old, we eat the Paschal Lamb. By eating this food, we are associated in Our Lord’s sacrifice and it becomes our own.
Every Mass is the Paschal Mystery, the Lord’s Passover (transitus Domini). We are united with him in his dying in order to be united with him in his resurrection. This is why in this Mass, emphasis is placed on the cross: “Let us glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ....” Our recalling of him is the recalling of One whose life was poured out in a supreme gesture of love.
The Gospel introduces not just a foot washing, but the very work of redemption which is symbolized by the foot washing. Christ cleanses us of sin, and if he does not wash us through his Passion, we can have no part with him. (cf Titus 2:14 and I Pet 1:18-20) Holy Thursday’s great lesson is this: the fruit of the Eucharist is union with our neighbor.
~ Excerpts from the Holy Gospels and
from Mother Catherine Marie’s reflection on Holy Thursday
Things to Do:
This night Jesus begged His apostles to “watch and pray” with Him as He faced His Passion. Spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration, perhaps during the night at the special altar of repose in your parish. If you cannot get to a church, simply stay in prayerful companionship with Jesus wherever you are.
Pray the ......Liturgy of the Hours