On This day we celebrate the feast of the Priesthood and the institution of the Eucharist at the last supper. In the morning we gather people and priests along with our Bishops to celebrate the gift of the priesthood and we also witness the renewal of the Vows of the priests who renew their commitment to serve the people of God in the year ahead. The consecration of the holy Chrism and the blessing of the oils of the sick and the catechumens also take place during this Mass. Today we pray for and with our priests remembering that humble prayer to God and humble service for and with his people should be what all of us priests and people should be about. Our priests need our prayers and we need their prayers for and with us more and more in an age where so many have little or nothing at all. We need them more especially for all they bring to us through the celebration of the Eucharist the sacrament Par Excellence. We need to stop and refocus ourselves on this day on the priesthood that is the Vocation of the priesthood and the service of God’s people that the priestly life means. We need to pray that the Lord will send gentle shepherds to guide his people in these trying times for people of faith. We also remember those who have been hurt by the misdeeds of the few so called bad priests may God give their victims peace of mind to continue their lives in his love.
In the evening we begin the Triduum and The Church speaks of these Three Days in the following way:
“Christ redeemed us all and gave perfect glory to God principally through his paschal mystery: dying he destroyed our death and rising he restored our life. Therefore the Easter Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year…. The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper (on Holy Thursday), reaches its highpoint in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. On Good Friday and, if possible, also on Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil, the Easter fast is observed everywhere.”
-General Norms for the Liturgical Year,
Lent actually ends on Holy Thursday up until a few years ago I didn’t realize this as i’m sure many others didn’t know that fact. Friday and Saturday are days of communal and private prayer. We fast from food, work, and entertainment in anticipation of the great Vigil. We hold in special prayer the elect who will be baptized, be confirmed, and join in the eucharistic banquet. Thus are the death and Resurrection of Christ proclaimed in our midst. At various moments from Thursday evening until Sunday, the community gathers for prayer and vigil. In the times between these communal celebrations, we pray at home, as individuals and as a family. In the Gospel of the Last supper we see Jesus getting up from the table to wash the disciples feet. Masters of houses in Jesus’ time most emphatically did not wash the feet of their disciples. It simply was not the done thing. Yet Jesus surely does it and when you stop to think about it Jesus never did the done thing.
Jesus the Son of God always did the right thing and this always showed up those who stood on their dignity. Those who said I am not doing that because it is not the done thing!
Then eventually Peter catches on, proclaiming, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” He has learned, in his own larger-than-life way, the lesson of Holy Thursday, the new commandment of love and service. That we should love one another as God loves us. It was I think, Origen, who said that it was not just the death that Jesus died but the life that he lived which was pleasing to God. If we think again about Jesus life, we see how he used his senses for others. He saw Zacchaeus up there in his tree, he heard Bartimaeus at the wee man at the back of the crowd, he felt the touch of the woman with the haemorrhage, he smelt the decaying body of Lazarus and spoke to the demonic man. He touched the untouchables; he ate and drank with publicans, tax collectors and sinners. In other words Jesus did not do the done thing and in the same way we should embrace all those who are in need of any kind as Christ did.
We should be leading lives of generous service to all those who need our help wherever they are and there are many people around who may need our help and care. We need to show that we are a caring people showing the love of God to all those whose lives are loveless to all who have nobody to care for them we have to show them that ours is an all loving and caring God, an all loving and caring God embodied in all we do and say for one another not counting the cost.
When we serve our brothers and sisters showing them that our God is an all-loving and caring father in heaven then the Eucharist when we partake of this great sacrament will bring us joy and peace may we not be afraid to pass them on to others in our words and deeds.
Almighty ever-living God,
direct our actions according to your good pleasure,
that in the name of your beloved Son
we may abound in good works.
Through Christ our Lord