In commemorating the events of Holy Week, we do much more than just recall Christ’s suffering and glorification. We actually celebrate his life and share in his victory. Through his Passion, Death and Resurrection, Jesus accomplishes the mission to which his Father calls him. He conquers sin and restores humanity to the justice of God.
Holy Thursday marks the end of the Lenten season. Tonight in a very special way, we experience Jesus’ gift of himself in the Eucharist, which has been handed down to us. On this night we begin the three days that are the center of our year, and indeed of the Christian faith. The Scripture readings for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper [Ex 12:1-8, 11-14 and Ps 116:12-13] root us deeply in our Jewish past, celebrating the Passover with the Jewish people, receiving from St. Paul [I Cor 11:23-26] that which was handed on to him, namely the Eucharistic banquet. In the Gospel [Jn 13:1-15] we look at Jesus square in the face as he kneels before us to wash feet in humble service. On this night, Jesus gives us an image of what the church is supposed to look like, feel like, and act like.
We contemplate Christ in the Upper Room, on the eve of his Passion, as he made a gift of himself to the Church, instituted the ministerial priesthood and left to his disciples the new commandment of love. In this way he wished to remain with us in the sacrament of the Eucharist, making himself the food of our salvation. After the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we will keep a vigil of adoration with the Lord, obeying the desire that he expressed to the Apostles in the Garden of Olives: “Remain here and keep watch with me” [Mt 26,38].
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