Holy Thursday of the Lord’s Last Supper

John 13:1-15

The Washing of the Disciples’ Feet

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

Every action of Jesus is deliberate and meaningful. He rises from table, removes his outer garment and washes His disciples’ feet. He consciously performs the task of a slave.

Jesus is not a victim. He deliberately assumes the lowest servant-disposition, a disposition that he carries through and fully actualizes in death. What can make a person do this? What can make God Himself do this?

We’ve heard of the story of a man who spent some time observing nuns working in a leprosarium. As he watched a nun tenderly wash the leprous sores of a patient, he remarked: “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars!” To which the nun promptly but quietly answered: “Neither would I…”

Only love can do such things. The kind of love Jesus concretely manifested in the washing of the feet – a reflection of the greater “washing” that happens in His passion and death. Through His suffering and death, He washed away our sins.

He asks us to show nothing less. (Sr. Lordes Anne, SSpS Bible Diary 2002)

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After the Lord and the apostles had eaten, Peter reprimanded Jesus for not inviting the women to the Last Supper. “Now, we have to wash the dishes,” Peter complained. The smart apostle himself offered a solution to the washing-problem. Every apostle would relate how Jesus called him. (In the movie, this enabled each apostle’s life to be recalled). The one whose story was poorest would wash the dishes. Agreed. Peter began, followed, followed by John, then one after the other. When all had told their story, they all looked at Jesus, waiting for the Lord to tell His own story.

The Lord smiled, ‘got up from the table, took off His outer robe and put a towel around Himself, (v. 4) and began to wash the dishes. He was, as though, telling the apostles: “Had we done this earlier together, we would already be through with it!”

In the 4th gospel, the washing of the feet is a symbolic action anticipating Christ’s salvific suffering and death, His “self-emptying”, to be actualized in Calvary.

According to most biblical scholars, not even slaves were asked to wash another person’s e.g. a guest’s feet. The slave would bring a basin with water and a towel, but it would be the guest who would wash his own feet.

Jesus went “lower” than a slave; He washed His disciples’ feet, he who was the Son of God, their Lord.

In Christian understanding, true greatness consists in genuine service, in the constant readiness “to wash others’ feet”, to forget self in order to serve others. (Fr. Willy Villegas, SVD Bible Diary 2004)

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“Do you understand what I have done to you? As I have done you must do.”

Jesus’ ultimate proof of his love for us is most vividly expressed in the symbolic action of the Eucharist: bread to be broken and blood to be poured. The Eucharist is an expression of God’s ultimate love for us shown definitely in the death on the cross.

However, John who gives us the beautiful discourse on the Eucharist in chapter six of his gospel does not give us the institution of the Last Supper. Did he not know it at all? He must have known it but why did he leave it out? He presents us instead with the Washing of the Feet. For him this symbolic action of Jesus sums up the whole life of Jesus as does the Eucharist. It reveals to John the same attitude of Jesus which is most clearly expressed in the Last Supper. But the washing of the feet shows at the same time what fellowship with Jesus asks for. The action was regarded as so impressive and concrete that in some parts of the Church the washing of the feet was regarded for many centuries, as the eight Sacrament, the Sacrament of Service as it was called.

It is important to observe the way John introduces this symbolic action. He is concerned that the reader gets the right picture: What Jesus is going to do he does in the full knowledge of who he is: “Jesus knew that the hour had come to depart from this world…. Jesus knew that He had come from God and was going to God….. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into His hand…..” In the full knowledge of who He is, Jesus is going now to prove the measure of His love by performing the lowest service one could think of in His time.

Foot washing was common in Israel but who would do it? The disciple might wash his master’s feet but a master would never lower himself to such a service. Unthinkable and inappropriate in the culture of the time.

It must have been in appalling sight for the disciples to see Jesus doing this service and yet Jesus cannot be deterred from it. This might help us to understand the reaction of Peter when Jesus wants to perform this action on him. “You, washing my feet, never….”

God once again upsets all common and respected standards: He is not just born but born in a stable, he does not just serve us, no he washes our feet, he does not just die, no, he does on the cross, the most cruel and most criminal death people could think of in his time. Jesus turns all standards around: to serve not to be served in the new way of life for His disciples. That was contrary to the custom of his time. People’s status in society was measured by the number of people who served them.

A famous Buddhist monk was once asked what he regarded as the most striking and most distinguishing aspect of the Christian religion. His answer was, “It is in the attitude that Jesus revealed in washing His disciples’ feet. Nowhere  can it be found that a good kneels in front of His creature and washes its feet. Such love is unsurpassable and breathtaking.”

Knowing full well what he has done, Jesus asks His disciples, “Do you understand what I have just done to you? You call me Master and I am.” He does not take anything back. “I have given you an example: as I have done you should do.”  Jesus adds something that is worth noticing: “Blessed are you if you behave accordingly.” He uses the same word which we find in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are you!” A better translation than “Happy are you” might be “Congratulations to you.” You are to be congratulated if you get this point. If you can do what I have done to you, you really prove that you are my disciples. And when that happen, congratulations to you. But why does Jesus congratulate those who can do as he has done? Anyone who will be able to serve others as Jesus Himself did will become a living proof that he/she has become a true disciple of Jesus. To behave accordingly is a grace which we can receive only with joy and thanksgiving

Albert Schweitzer the famous physician, musician and missionary in Africa was once asked what advice he could give to those who, as Christians, look for a motto in life. His answer was: “You ask me to give a motto. Here it is: SERVICE. Let this word accompany you throughout your life. Let it be before you as you seek your way and your duty in the world. May it be called to your minds if ever you are tempted to forget it or set it aside. It will not always be a comfortable companion but it will always be a faithful one. And it will be able to lead you to happiness, no matter what the experience of your lives is. (Fr. John Fuellenbach, SVD Bible Diary 2005)

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Today is Holy Thursday, holy because it commemorates the Passion and Death of our Blessed Savior. This day especially commemorates the institution of the Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist as Sacraments. The two are essentially tied together, since without the priest, the offering of a new sacrifice in the concept of the New Dispensation is not possible. This is the only sacrifice fully acceptable to the Heavenly Father for the redemption of humankind, a sacrifice in which Jesus, the Son of God who became one of us, is both priest and victim as He offers Himself once and for all for the salvation of the world. As Jesus wanted this memorial of His passion and death to be relived until the end of time in an unbloody manner, He instituted the priesthood, the authority and power to offer this sacrifice which we call the Holy Eucharist. Or Holy Mass. He did it at the last Supper when he took bread and said: “This is my Body.” Then He took the cup of wine: “This cup is the new covenant, sealed in my blood which is poured out for you.” It is clear here that he wanted it commemorated because He said: “Do this in memory of me,” (Luke 22:19, 1Cor 11:24). The Last Supper account is found in Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22 and Luke 22:19.

We know it was not just a commemoration or a mere symbolism. In 1Cor 11:26-27 we read: “So then, whenever you eat of this bread and drink from this cup, you are proclaiming the death of the Lord until He comes.” So the Holy Mass is a proclamation of the death of the Lord. And again, “if anyone eats of this bread or drinks from the cup of the Lord unworthily, he sins against the body and blood of the Lord.” It is a holy mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ.

When we trace the history of the early Christians right after Jesus went up to heaven, what do we find? Acts 3:42 describes the first Christian Community: “They were faithful to the teaching of the apostles, the common life of sharing, the Breaking of the Bread and the prayers. The term “Breaking of the Bread” has a special meaning here; it refers to the Holy Eucharist. This becomes clearer in Acts 20:10 which refers to the Sunday worship: “On the first day of the week (Sunday), we were together for the Breaking of the Bread.” Let us thank the Lord today for this Sacrament. (Fr. Erasio Flores, SVD Bible Diary 2006)

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Fifteen years ago, the bishops of the Philippines convened the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II). Bishops, priest and lay people gathered for more than a month in Manila to answer one fundamental question: Two thousand years after the Birth of Christ, how are we as a Church; how do we act and relate to our world today? What kind of a Church must we be to meet the challenges of the world around us? What kind of Christian community does Jesus want us to be? The answer is found in today’s Gospel, Jesus washes the feet of His apostles. It is humble service. “Humble service,” PCP-II says, “is one of the last important lessons that our Lord Jesus taught the apostles. And He made it clear during the Last Supper.”

During the time of Jesus only slaves wash the feet of others. Jesus purposely close to wash the feet of His apostles so that the act will make a lasting impression on them. Jesus concludes: “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Humble service should characterize all who identify themselves as Christians. This is how we as Christians should be recognized in the here and now. “Love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Let us ask ourselves whether our Christian life is characterized by humble service. At the end of the day before you sleep, ask yourself this question: Did I as a father or a mother to my children. As a leader of my community, as a co-worker in my job, show a realistic picture of humble service?

May our life be a living memory of our Lord who taught us humble service. (Fr. Jun De Ocampo, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

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March 24, 2016 Thursday

It is said that “Power is sweet”. This is right. Power is sweet that many, if not all, would want to have a lick of it. Others though, would want to have a monopoly of it. Like Jesus, I too, have been gifted with power. To me, power is given through my priesthood. For others, it may have been given through their inherited socio-economic and political status in their life. Others have power through deceit.

Jesus shows me that power is a gift but not because I deserve it. Power is given to me for a purpose, but not for my own bene t alone. He shows me that power is given that I may be able to truly and fully serve others even to the point of powerlessness only for others to be empowered.

The sweetness of power lies in its being shared. The strength of my power increases when I share its benefits. When I want it all for myself power never grows. Instead, it will become like a disease, a cancerous disease that would eat up my entire soul and it will have a bitter taste. (Fr. Patricio R. delos Reyes Liceo del Verbo Divino-Tacloban Bible Diary 2016)

rveritas-asia.org/index.php/daily-reflection/532-march-24-2016-thursday

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Editorial

Maundy Thursday: As Jesus had done, we should also do

April 8, 2009, 5:05pm

Holy Thursday is the most complex and profound of all religious observances, save only for the Easter Vigil. It celebrates Christ’s institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacerdotal Priesthood and commemorates Christ’s never-ending love for His disciples, most of whom would desert, betray, or deny Him a few hours after that gathering.

In His Last Supper, a celebration of Passover, Jesus is the self-offered Passover Victim, and every ordained priest to this day presents this same sacrifice, by Christ’s authority and command, in exactly the same way: “Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying. ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’ ’’ (Luke 22:19-20)

For many centuries, the Last Supper has inspired great works of art and literature such as Leonardo da Vinci’s popular Last Supper in the 16th century, Joey Velasco’s Last Supper which featured street children, the glorious stained glass window in Chartres Cathedral, and a reminiscence called Holy Thursday, by the French novelist Francois Mauriac, written in the 1930s.

A special mass is celebrated in all the cathedral churches of the world on the morning of Holy Thursday, participated in by the bishop and as many priests of the diocese as can attend, because it is a solemn observance of Christ’s institution of the priesthood at the Last Supper. At this “Chrism Mass,’’ the bishop also blesses the Oil of Chrism used for baptism, confirmation, and anointing of the sick or dying.

The evening Holy Thursday Liturgy marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the sacred Triduum of Holy Week, which culminates in the Easter Vigil. In His desire to show both the worth God ascribes to the humility of service and the need for cleansing, Jesus decided to first strip his outer garments and wash the feet of His apostles before partaking of His Last Supper with them (Jn 13:3-5). It is this cleansing on the part of Jesus which gave this day of Holy Week the name Maundy Thursday.

If the Eucharist is the place where the Lord washes our feet, daily life is the place where we ought to wash the feet of others. We must follow His example both at the altar of the Eucharist and at the altar of life.

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EXCEEDING GOODNESS: How can I repay the Lord for all the good done for me? – Psalm 116:12

The New Year has just begun as I write this reflection for Didache. I cannot help but feel overwhelming gratitude to God for His exceeding goodness to me in the past year. He has showered me abundantly with both material and spiritual blessings. He has promised me a “future full of hope.” And yet, even as I recall and list down the big and small blessings I received from Him last year, all these pale in comparison to His gift of Himself on the cross.

Nothing beats this great mystery and miracle! The Son of God coming into the world and laying down His life to save sinners like me even before I’d decided to change my ways or love Him back. The Son of God rising from the dead and overcoming sin and death so I could have eternal life. The Son of God calling me His friend and loving me this much.

How can I repay the Lord for all the good He has done for me? I can never repay Him. I can only live my life following His example, as my way of loving Him back and showing Him gratitude. Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag (teregmps@yahoo.com)

Reflection: Recall the many good things you have received from God lately. How can you best express your gratitude to God for the good He has done in your life?

Lord, show me how I can best show my gratitude for Your exceeding goodness to me. Inspire me through Your Holy Spirit and enable me to express my thanksgiving in my own unique way.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2014-04-17

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1ST READING: The Passover of the Jews is the forerunner to our celebration of the Eucharist. The Last Supper is the event that links the two celebrations. The Jews remember deliverance from slavery in Egypt; we remember deliverance from slavery to sin. Indeed, through the redeeming work of Christ, sin has lost any absolute power it may have gained. Let us be faithful and live in Jesus’ victory over sin. Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14

2ND READING: In the Pauline correspondence, the celebration of the Eucharist in a very simple form is mentioned and is an evidence of its early development within the Christian faith. I t has been around now for almost 2,000 years as a celebration and memorial to what Jesus has done for us. I like the final line of one of the hymns we used to sing that says, “We remember; we celebrate; we believe.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

GOSPEL: Service is at the heart of any love relationship. Without love, service becomes mechanical and meaningless. We need both for a healthy relationship. Let us examine our lives today as we meditate upon the scene of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Let us ask ourselves how we can better serve God and one another. John 13:1-15

think: Service is at the heart of any love relationship. Without love, service becomes mechanical and meaningless.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2014-04-17

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VISITA IGLESIA: After the solemn liturgy of the Lord’s Supper, people will go around visiting seven churches for the traditional practice called Visita Iglesia. This tradition dates back to the Apostolic Age, when early Christians on pilgrimage in the Holy Land prayed at shrines deemed important to the story of the Passion of Jesus. The visit to the seven sites recalled seven Gospel events: Jesus’ Trial before the High Priest Annas (John 18:12-23); Journey from Annas to the High Priest Caiaphas (Mark 14:53-63); Mock Trial at the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:57-67); Trial before Pilate (Luke 23:1-5); Trial before Herod (Luke 23:6-12); Sentencing by Pilate (Luke 23:13-25); and Carrying of the Cross to Calvary (John 19:17-18).

In 313 A.D., pious observants also began to make seven visits within these Roman basilicas: Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Mary Major, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, Shrine of Holy Cross of Jerusalem, and St. Sebastian Outside the Walls. In the Great Jubilee Year 2000, Blessed Pope John Paul II replaced St. Sebastian Outside the Walls with the Shrine of the Madonna of Divine Love.

Visiting seven churches, we recall how Jesus willed that all He had started in His three-year ministry should now form the heritage, patrimony and responsibility of His Church or “Iglesia.” As regards the Law, He has summarized everything in one mandate: “Love one another.” As regards liturgy and worship, Jesus perfects the Old Testament provision: His own flesh and blood He now gives in the Holy Eucharist as the most acceptable offering to the heavenly Father. In contrast with the hereditary priesthood that Moses instituted, Jesus institutes the college of the Twelve as ministers who will now “do this in memory” of Jesus.

In our Visita Iglesia let us pray not just for our family’s and personal intentions. We pray for the protection, faithfulness and advancement of our Church, the community born from the death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: List down the seven churches that you plan to visit with your family today. Spend an hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament today, in thanksgiving and in intercession for ministers of the Church whom you know.

I lift up to You, Lord, all the priests that have touched my life. I thank You for them.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2014-04-17

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THE MERCIFUL POPE – “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” – John 13:15

“Hello, Anna,” the voice on the phone said, “this is Pope Francis.”

Earlier, Anna Romano had written to the Pope, describing her turmoil when her pregnancy led her to discover that her fiancé was already married. She broke off their relationship and decided to keep the baby.

Anna recalled that the Pope talked to her like a dear old friend and said, “The baby is a gift from God, a sign of providence.” When she got worried that no one would agree to baptize her baby, Pope Francis assured her she’d find a willing priest. “But if not,” he said, “you know there’s always me.”

Pope Francis teaches us by example that the best way to bring people back to God is to love them first. He said, “The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, but without getting lost.”

He’s talking about you and me, and how we can bring the light of the Gospel to those who need it most. Cecil Lim  (cez_lim@yahoo.com)

Reflection: “The ministers of the Church must be ministers of mercy above all. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds.” (Pope Francis)

Lord, help us fast from criticism and condescension. Purify our memories and our hearts that we may look upon each person with love and compassion.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2015-04-02

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THE EUCHARISTIC GESTURES – As we begin the Paschal Triduum, we are brought to the last meal that our Lord shared with His beloved disciples. It is in this juncture that we receive from Christ the central element of our faith — the Eucharist. Vatican II describes the Eucharist as the “source and summit of our Christian life.” It is where we draw grace and strength to face the realities of our daily life. And it is through the Eucharist that everything that we do reaches its fulfillment.

The Eucharistic gestures can speak a lot to us.

“He took the bread.” We can recall the many times that we have been chosen, picked among many for a task or mission that the Lord has particularly designed for us. There is a need for us to constantly do discernment. The “taking” does not really stop. But very few are able to recognize that they are being called, not necessarily for the religious life, but definitely for some noble task.

“He blessed it.” We meditate on the moments that we have been blessed, gifted and equipped by God to accomplish these tasks. It is good to ask ourselves: Why did God make you rich? Why did He make you a good singer? Why were you blessed?

“He broke it.” We marvel at the fact that Jesus’ fate is something that we need to share with Him. So we, too, are broken with the many crosses that we carry. Let us try to see wisdom in the many pains that we have to endure. Christ’s suffering merited salvation for us. How can our own brokenness become salvific?

“He gave it to His disciples.” Then we are shared, or are given to others that they may live. How has God been using you to further His reign? Where were you sent? Or to whom have you been sent? Fr. Sandy V. Enhaynes

REFLECTION QUESTION: In what ways have you been “taken, blessed, broken and shared?”

I am ready, Lord, to be used for Your glory. Lead me. Amen.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2016-03-24

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My Reflection for April 17, Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper John 13:1-15: Reflection: Have you already experienced washing the feet of another person? Not yet perhaps, the simple thought of washing someone’s feet makes us cringe in aversion. This is for the reason that this kind of action is reserved for servants, and no one of us wants to become servants of anyone.

We want to be served; we don’t want to serve we want to be masters and not servants. We want ourselves to be treated with respect and not to be disrespected. We want ourselves to be esteemed, to be appreciated and not be depreciated.

When Jesus washed His disciples’ feet it was for the purpose of giving them a lesson. That if they truly want to become His followers they must learn to live and breathe humility in everyday of their lives. They must at all times learn to serve and not be served.

Those who served in the church or identified to be close to the church are always faced with this challenge of humility. For example if there’s a problem in your community that nobody wants to do because it somewhat demotes ones social status. Are you willing to offer yourself to do that task that nobody wants to do? Are you willing to stoop and swallow your pride so that relationship can be restored once again?

The true mark of a true follower of Jesus is not measured by someone’s eloquence, riches, power and ability to memorize and quote lengthy verses in the bible. The true mark of a true follower rest in someone’s willingness to embrace without any question the humility of Jesus.

Are you capable of embracing the humility of Jesus? (Marino J. Dasmarinas)

mjdasma.blogspot.com/2014/04/my-reflection-for-april-17-holy.html

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Reflection for March 24, Holy Thursday, Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper; John 13:1-15

Reflection: Would you be willing to emulate the humility of Jesus?

Aside from being the son of God, What is the secret of the endless longevity of Jesus’ teachings? Countless people have already belittled Jesus as an ordinary human. Yet His legacy and teachings still echoes until this very moment and will continue to echo until eternity. What is the secret of the permanence of Jesus’ teachings?

The secret is in His Self-sacrifice, the secret is in His humility. Jesus never thought of His own safety, He never created any comfort zones or anything that would ensure His safety.  He instead blazed the trail of Self-sacrifice and Humility.

In His self-sacrifice Jesus instituted this very day the Eucharist or the first Mass to humbly keep alive Himself and His teachings. He did this for us to have something to hold-on as we face the many battles and struggles of our lives. Thus, He continuously strengthens us every time we make ourselves present in the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. And He nourishes us every time we partake of His Body and Blood during Holy Communion.

By His humility Jesus’ embodied servant leadership. He showed the twelve apostles and us also how it is to truly serve. He washed the feet of the apostles to signify to them that they must do the same to those whom they will be serving. That they will only become true leaders the moment they learn to give their lives in humble service for others.

Therefore we ask ourselves: Are we willing to follow the trail of Jesus’ Self-sacrifice and Humility? – Marino J. Dasmarinas

mjdasma.blogspot.com/2016/03/reflection-for-march-24-holy-thursday.html

 

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WORD Today (Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; 1Cor 11:23-26; John 13:1-15): Holy Thursday celebrates the Sacrament of the Eucharist through which Christ continues His saving work. A Sacrament is the visible wrapper of grace, that invisible gift from God. God chooses visible signs to contain the love He sends us. 1400+BC, He chose the body and blood of a lamb as visible signs by which he saved the Jews from Egypt.

The invisible Word of God chose to become the physical Christ, making God visible. At the Last Supper, Christ created the Eucharist to make His Sacrifice ever visible to us. “He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.” Christ feeds us His Body and Blood to transform us into visible Sacraments of His love, serving and washing each other’s tired feet as we journey together (Fr. Iko Bajos – April 17, 2014).

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HOLY THURSDAY (YEAR B) – JUAN 13:1-15. UNSA MAN ANG LITURHIYA NGA ATONG GISAULOG SA HUWEBES SANTO? Ang liturhiya ning adlawa naghandum sa duha ka mahinungdanong hitabo: Ang pagtukod ni Hesus sa Eukaristiya ug ang Iyang paghugas sa tiil sa mga apostoles. Sa pagtukod sa Eukaristiya, si Hesus miingon, “Buhata ninyo kini aron paghandum Kanako.” Human sa paghugas sa mga tiil, miingon siya, “Kon ako nga inyong Ginoo ug Magtutudlo naghugas sa inyong mga tiil, paghinugasay usab kamo sa inyong mga tiil.” Duha kini ka kasugoan nga nahilambigit pag-ayo ug dili pwede nga tumanon nga wala ang usa. Ang pagsaulog sa Eukaristiya maoy magdasig kanato sa pag-alagad sa uasg-usa. Ug ang paghigugma ug pagtabang sa isigkaingon maoy maghatag og kahulogan sa atong pagsaulog sa Santos nga Misa.Posted by Abet Uy

abetuy.blogspot.com/2015/04/holy-thursday-year-b.html

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The Evening of Holy Thursday marks 3 important events: the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of the priesthood and the Ministry (Service).

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Thursday, March 24

THE HOLY THURSDAY

Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; 1 Cor11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15

The Language of Love

Jesus has said: the greatest expression of love is giving one’s own life for one’s friend. Today we find Jesus fulfilling his own words. In the most striking manner he offers his own life to his beloved disciples in two extraordinary ways. In one he washes their feet and in the other he feeds them with his own body and blood in the form of bread and wine. Thus Jesus institutes the sacrament of love in the Upper Room where he ate his last supper with his beloved ones.

The words and actions of Jesus are beyond the comprehension of our practical minds. The language of love can be understood only by love.

It is the most crucial moment in the life and mission of Jesus. It is filled with the pain of farewell. It is filled with anxiety of the impending suffering, rejection, humiliation and death. Jesus has already started to undergo the moments of his passion.

The disciples are totally ignorant of the condition of Jesus. They are not aware of the deep significance of that particular Pascal-meal for Jesus. It is going to be his last one with them. Jesus wants at this moment to show that he loves them till the end. Nobody can love more than that.

In love Jesus does not hold back anything for himself. In the words of St. Paul, Jesus empties himself to the extent that he becomes a servant to his disciples. St. John has brought out the picture of the serving love of Jesus very powerfully in the washing of the feet of the disciples. The Lord becomes a servant.

In the awareness of the Christian community this event of the washing of the feet by Jesus has made a great impact. It is an act which shakes the conscience of every Christian. It motivates them for a conversion of attitudes from domination to loving service. That is why saints like Bernhard of Clairvaux and Ambrose of Milan considered the washing of feet as the eighth sacrament.

The washing of feet by Jesus is the proof of his love, which is willing to bend before the other in humility. It means not only being humble, but also being considerate of others, acknowledging them as they are. It means also unprejudiced love to all, to saints and sinners alike. It is the mentality of the loving Father in heaven who loves his children unconditionally and showers his blessings equally to all.

Quite deliberately, Jesus says, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” In this sense, the washing of feet and the Eucharist the same challenge for us, the disciples of Jesus. We are challenged to love as he loved with body and soul, in word and deed.

In the Eucharist Jesus identifies himself with the Paschal lamb. On the Passover day the Paschal lamb is sacrificed and the blood of the sacrificed lamb is shed as a remembrance of the salvation of Israelites from slavery. The flesh of the lamb is eaten during the celebration of the feast at home. Jesus substitutes the Pascal lamb with the Eucharistic lamb which is himself.

When Jesus utters the Eucharistic words over bread and wine in the Last Supper, he calls to the attention of his disciples to the sacrificial lamb. He says, this is my body broken for you, take and eat; this is my blood poured out for the remission of sins, take and drink from it.

The words that prolong the institution of the Eucharist to the present and to the future are: “Do this in remembrance of me”. With these words, Jesus entrusts us with a great tradition to be carried out till the end of the world, till he comes again.

Whenever we come together we have to remember the great love of Jesus immortalized in the Eucharist. The Eucharistic memory is not simply a recollection of the past. But it is memory which challenges our present life, behavior and relationships.

The holy Eucharist is not simply an object, but an action. In the Eucharist Jesus obliges us to discover his broken body as really present in the world in the suffering people around us. He invites us to break ourselves as the bread on the Eucharistic table and share with others. It is an invitation to come out of our selfish world to the world human relationships.

The broken body of Jesus is visible not only in human beings, but also in nature where the glory of God is becoming less and less visible by the greed of human beings. Care for the environment is an extension of our Eucharistic commitment. Let the celebration of the Eucharist continually challenge our conscience. Let it awaken us to our responsibilities to human beings and to the entire universe. Dr. E Sebastian CMI

navchetana.com/web/homilies.php?date=2016-03-24

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March 24, 2016

REFLECTION: At the time of Jesus in Palestine, people wore sandals and their feet got dirty from walking on dusty or muddy roads. Hence the need to wash them or have them washed by somebody else. But this task was considered so demeaning that one could only force a foreign slave to do it. Jewish slaves could not be required to do it. However, a loving wife could perform this service for her husband or devoted children for their father. Occasionally, disciples could do it for a particularly admired and venerated teacher.

But in today’s gospel reading, we see Jesus reversing the roles: here it is the teacher who gets on his knees and washes the feet of his disciples. A stunning gesture which shocks Peter and the others. Yet, it is only an anticipated symbol of the kind of humiliation that Jesus will suffer the following day: a death as a criminal for all of us.

Are we always standing on our pride? Or sometimes do we accept to humbly serve our brothers and sisters in whatever way we can?

God is on his knees, washing the feet of twelve rough fisherman. Such is God’s love to us.

CLARETIAN COMMUNICATIONS FOUNDATION, INC.

8 Mayumi Street, U.P. Village, Diliman, 1101 Quezon City, Philippines

Tel.: (02) 921-3984, 922-9806 • Fax: (02) 921-6205

schoolofthewordonline.com/scriptural-library/daily-gospel/english/item/3482-march-24-2016

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,  Year II

Back to: Holy Thursday of the Lord’s Last Supper

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