Maundy Thursday

Holy Week is a very special time that the Church gives to us; it is a special week set apart for us that we might spend time with Our Lord, entering into the sorrowful mysteries of His Passion, which won for us our redemption.  Each day of Holy Week brings before our eyes a different phase of the Lord’s Passion in detail.  On Holy Thursday every year, we commemorate in a special way Our Lord’s Last Supper with His Apostles and for that reason, this Mass is known as the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus Christ did three very significant things at the Last Supper; and each one of those things, in its own way, reveals to us His great love for us.  The first thing that many of us probably think about when we think about the Last Supper is the Eucharist, for at the Last Supper Jesus instituted the Eucharist.  Jesus gave the Apostles, and us through them, the most extraordinary gift imaginable.  At the Last Supper, Jesus gave us the greatest gift that was ever given.  Jesus, Who IS Almighty God, gave us the gift of Himself.  He gave not just a symbol, not just a representation, not just a reminder, but Himself: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  Jesus promised to remain with us always and He fulfills that promise through being really, truly, wholly, and substantially Present in the Most Holy Eucharist.

Jesus taught us that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for the one you love; not only did He lay His life down for us, He goes even further and gives us Himself as food so as to be united to us.  Love desires union.  Jesus loves each one of us so much that He wants to be united to us.  He gives Himself to you in Holy Communion in order to unite Himself to you.  He thirsts for you; and He thirsts that you would thirst for Him.  He desires that you desire Him.  The Eucharist is the greatest gift that can be imagined: it is the total self-gift of God.

The second thing that Jesus did at the Last Supper, which we commemorate at this Mass, was institute the priesthood.  In the Upper Room, at the Last Supper, Jesus ordained His Apostles as the first priests of the New Covenant: He instituted the ministerial priesthood as the channel through which He was going to give Himself in the Eucharist to the world.  He gave His Apostles the sacred power to make His Body and Blood present; and that sacred power was not given to the Apostles for themselves, it was given to them so that they could give the Lord’s Body and Blood to others.

After Jesus ordained the Apostles, He gave them an example of what priesthood was about: service.  The third thing that Jesus did in the Upper Room was to give an example of how we are to love.  At that first Holy Thursday, Jesus, Who is Almighty God, knelt down before the Apostles and washed their feet.  He, Who created the universe and everything in it, humbly performed a service that was ordinarily reserved for slaves.  Then He commanded the Apostles to love one another as He has loved them.

This commandment to love one another in loving service is the New Law which Jesus not only commanded, but also taught by His own example.  In order to fulfill this new law we need to die to ourselves.  Our weak, fallen human nature is inclined towards sin.  Because of our fallen nature, we have a tendency to be proud and self-reliant and seek our own selfish interests and put ourselves ahead of others.  Jesus establishes a new order: which is, in reality, a return to the order which God established in the beginning: the order of love.  Jesus calls us to love others as He loves them, but in order to do that we have to put our pride to death and serve others in true love and humility.  True love puts others ahead of self; true love seeks the good of the other; true love is willing to serve the other; true love sacrifices itself for the beloved: just as Jesus did for us.  We were made for this kind of love.  Sin is really a failure to love as we were created to.

These three things that Our Lord did at the Last Supper, reveal the great love that God has for us and they also demonstrate the love that we are to have for others.  During the foot washing ceremony, I encourage you to meditate upon the amazing humility and the immense love that our God has for us.  Let us pray that we may imitate Our Lord in loving service of others.  Lord Jesus Christ, help us to live the love that you call us to.  Help us to love you above all things and help us to love others as You love them.  Amen.