Dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,
As we are entering Holy Triduum, let us focus our hearts and minds on the aspects of the paschal mysteries to be celebrated beginning from today. It is for this reason, I like to share with you some points for reflection either individually or in families. The first one is obviously, the institution of the Eucharist from which the ministerial priesthood and service flow.
Institution of the Eucharist
Today is a remarkable day in the life of Christian community. It is a unique Thursday in the liturgical year. If Eucharistic celebration is the memorial of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, today it is much more. Perhaps, this is why Maundy Thursday demands from us a special attitude and an active festive mood – both of which are the effects of a vigilant faith in special circumstances. Well, for the past forty days we have been preparing ourselves for Easter which begins today with the Holy Triduum – the fulcrum of which is the mystery of human redemption through the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.
The Paschal Triduum highlights the inseparable link between the theology of the Cross and the theology of Glory, visible in the risen Jesus who shows his disciples the signs of the Cross on his glorious body. Today we celebrate the institution of the Holy Eucharist, which took place during the farewell dinner of Jesus, on the eve of his passion. Evening full of memories, farewell words, sacramental signs and gestures with a sense of strong brotherly love.
Among the main themes of today’s liturgy (the Eucharist, Ministerial Priesthood and Fraternal Love in the Christian community), the first one that determines the others is the Eucharist, for sure. It is the memorial of the passion and death of the Lord until his return (second reading), and new Easter or sacrificial Banquet of the Christian people, which replaces the Jewish Passover dinner, memorial of liberation (first reading).
Some theologians place the birth of the Church in the Lord’s last supper, because it is there the mandate given by Jesus becomes evident: “Do this in memory of me” which is at the origin of the repetition of the Eucharist and, therefore, of the permanent convocation of the ecclesial assembly through the times. In the same way, this mandate and desire of Christ to repeat his Eucharistic dinner is made possible in the community – thanks to the priestly ministry of the Bishops and Priests in continuity with the Apostles in the Upper Room.
A Testament of Love
In his discourse at the last supper, Jesus said to his disciples: “My children, I will be with you only a little longer… A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn 13: 13-14). Brotherly love or the commandment of Jesus is visible sign of the Christian community. It is this that will give her identify in the world.
There are two gestures made known at the Last Supper indicative of brotherly love: the washing of the feet of the apostles and the supper with his friends during which Jesus, for the first time, shares his Body and his Blood in the sense of Eucharist. Both gestures are expressions of Service, Love & Self-giving by Christ and also an invitation to us to do the same, because Jesus has asked us to repeat them both in his Memory.
“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (Jn 1: 1). It (love) was a sublime summary of and an introduction to these two final gestures: washing of the feet and institution of the Eucharist, which illuminate and give meaning to the whole life of Christ, centered on this double motivation: love for the Father and love for people, that was everything for him.
The love of Jesus did not stop with words, not even with these two signs, Eucharist and washing of the feet (humble service), but went into action. He gave his life for his friends and for all of us and no wonder he remarked, “no one has a love greater than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15: 13). In fact it is love that gives perspective and depth to the suffering and death of Jesus.
That evening two very different self-donations would took place. Jesus gives himself for his friends in the Eucharist: this bread is my body, given for you; this wine is my blood, shed for you. To this total self-donation without reservations, Judas replies with the betrayal, of which Jesus was already aware of. In fact he said: “one of you will hand me over to my enemies.”
“Giving oneself“, like Jesus, or “selling one’s brother“, as Judas did, is the alternative that life places before us. Our choice as Christians can only be that of Jesus: to love others as he loved us.
Fr Sagayaraj Devadoss
Questions to ask oneself:
Do I love to go to the Eucharist on Sundays?
How often do I pray for Bishops, Priests and Deacons?
As parishioner, am I directly involved in the service to the poor and to the least?
Do I encourage Vocations to priestly, religious life and to various lay Ministries?
Do I spend some time in adoring the Lord in the Eucharist?