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Apr 13, 2017 Written by  Fr. Paulino Twesigye Mondo

Homily Holy Thursday Evening Mass Be the first to comment!

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Theme: Do this in memory of me

My brothers and sisters in Christ, in order to prepare ourselves to commemorate the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ on Easter Day, today, we are celebrating Holy Thursday.

This Feast solemnly commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist. During the history of the Holy Catholic Church, this special Feast has been associated with the reconciliation of penitents, the consecration of the holy oils, the washing of the feet, the commemoration of the Blessed Eucharist and Institution of Ministerial Priesthood. Holy Thursday is the night on which our Lord Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples. What went through their mind on that night, we will never know. We can only imagine. What we do know is that Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from the world and to go to the Father.

While Jesus had been preparing His disciples for some time, hinting to them that He was about to be betrayed and crucified, the disciples did not appear to perceive what Jesus was telling them. Remember, they were fishermen by origin. They had barely any education except that they knew about boats and nets. Before celebrating this last meal with his disciples, Jesus washed their feet saying that “as I have loved you, you also love one another” John 13: 34. The significance of this is that God intends to make sure that love and service are at the heart of his followers. Like the rest of us the disciples had been more impressed with his miracles, infinite wisdom and His endless knowledge but what was of value was love. While they affirmed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah, their actions at the time of his arrest will clearly tell us that they were very weak in human nature and only love could strengthen. Today our love for one another must rise and shine.

First reading: Exodus 12: 18, 11-14

In today’s first reading, God the Father alludes to Moses and His people that the day of the New Covenant of grace is coming. In this reading, God the Father gave at least eight different pictures of things to come. In the institution of the Passover to commemorate the day when His people were freed from slavery, God indicated that that month would mark for the people the beginning of months. God spoke of taking a lamb without blemish to fulfill this purpose. For our sake God made the Lamb without blemish to be sin though the Lamb knew no sin, so that through the Lamb we might become righteous before him. God commanded Moses and his people to eat the lamb so as to be spared from death and disaster that would befall the rest.

In our turn, by eating the Bread of Life we freely receive the life of Christ that leads us to salvation. God the Father also spoke of the firstborn to declare the significance and importance of the matter. This is a co-penetration of Jesus who is “the firstborn within a large family and the first fruits of those who have died” Romans 8:29. The Lamb is the first fruit of all creation since He is the first to resurrect from the dead never to die again. The blood of the lamb is a picture of the Blood of Christ. Through the Blood of Christ, we are justified cf. Romans 5:9. To pass over those where the blood of the lamb is seen means that there will be no judgment against those who are made righteous before the eyes of God by the Lamb of God. Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life” John. 5:24. When God the Father said that He would pass over Egypt, He was giving us a picture of passing over the darkness of the world. In those days, the Egyptians, as gentiles worshipped different idols. They were not part of God’s people and promises.

So when God shall pass His judgment over the world, He shall pass over those who have received their righteousness through the Blood of the Lamb. By the blood of the Lamb we are made righteous in the eyes of God, the sin that stained our souls and the “sins that we previously committed” Romans 3:25 are cleansed. In the days of Moses, God commanded that the Feast of the Passover be remembered. It should be celebrated as a festival to the Lord, throughout every generation as a perpetual ordinance. This command is a picture of the feast of Holy Thursday that is being celebrated today. It is a celebration of the Holy Mass that is celebrated daily throughout the world in remembrance of the words of Jesus that do this in memory of me.

Second reading: 1Corinthians 11:23-26

In this second reading, St. Paul presents some of the customs of the early Church. He begins with a few minor issues, such as how people are to dress, but then he raises a major problem. The community was allowing divisions to be evident among them. The early celebrations of the Lord’s Supper used to begin with a meal. But instead of some sort of ancient Parish hot cup of tea, these Corinthians were divided at the table. They only shared their food with those with whom they associated. The rich brought sumptuous food, but only for their rich friends while the poor often went hungry.

Paul reminded them that they were not celebrating the Eucharist as Christ intended it to be celebrated when he gave his Body and Blood at the Last Supper. Instead they were using the Eucharist as an opportunity to demonstrate materialism, consumerism and arrogance. Reminding them of what was taking place when they meet for the Breaking of the Bread, Paul recited the formulas similar to those found in the Gospels and prayed in our Masses: This is my Body which is given up for you. This is the Chalice full of wine was the Cup of the new covenant of my blood. Paul wants the Corinthians to remember what is taking place and whom they are celebrating. He tells them that this action proclaims the death of the Lord until He comes.

The Eucharistic Celebration is a moment for unity in the Christian community.  Division in the community instead is antithesis to the Eucharist. That’s the reason why our current celebration of the Eucharist, the Mass, places a sign of peace before the reception of the communion. To the person we offer peace to we see anyone with whom we need to be reconciled. The Eucharist must express unity in Christ, the Body of Christ united to its Head.

St. Paul affirms to us what he personally received from the Lord Jesus. Jesus commanded us to celebrate the Eucharist in remembrance of Him. St. Paul tells us that this is the New Covenant of Grace through the Blood of Jesus. Through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we are to proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So sacred is the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that in the next three verses that followed during this reading, St. Paul gives guidelines as to how we should receive this Sacrament. “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup, all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves” 1 Corinthians. 11:27.

To avoid the judgment of the Lord, we should receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in a state of grace, after having received the Sacrament of Reconciliation. What does it mean to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in a state of grace? It means that those who are living in wrong relationships do not qualify to receive Holy Communion. It means that without the Sacrament of Confession, those who commit sin disqualify themselves from the banquet. It means that those who have been involved in breaking God’s commandments in any way cannot receive Holy Communion. It means that those who are in a state of mortal sin, until such time as they have sincerely repented and confessed their sins, cannot approach the Sacred Table to receive the Bread of Life.

Gospel: John 13:1-15

The second reading leads us to the main reading for today, the Gospel Proclamation. The Eucharist cannot be understood apart from the action depicted in the Gospel, the washing of feet. This is not just a side incident, an introduction to the main point of the dinner. This is one way of stating what the gift of bread and wine, Body and Blood proclaim: Jesus Christ offers Himself up completely for us and then calls us to offer ourselves up completely for others. The washing of feet is a prophetic action, an action demanding our humble acceptance of the Lord and an action mandating that we do to others what is done for us, serve them without limits, with sacrificial love. The reception of the Body and Blood of the Lord is also a prophetic action, an action that demands our humble imitation of the Lord and an action that mandates our doing for others what has been done for us.

When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples he performed a prophetic action. Even a slave could not be made to wash the feet of his or her master. It was degrading, disgusting, but not to the Lord.  He would empty himself in service to his people. He would give Himself completely to them. He would give them His Body and Blood. He would die on the cross for them. He would demonstrate to them that the Love of God had no limits. Nothing is too demanding, love is all that matters. The measure of true love is love without measure.

The meal of love, the Last Supper, began with a courageous act demonstrating the love we all experience pouring down on us from the Cross. But this action of the Lord demands our humbly accepting him in our lives. We need our Savior. We cannot conquer the evils of the world alone. We have to let Jesus save us. At first Peter tried to prevent the Lord from humbling himself with a touching remark asking ‘would you wash my feet, Lord?’  I don’t think so?’ we would add in our jargon. Jesus tells him and us that if we do not allow him to wash us, if we are so proud to think that we do not need him to touch our dirty and rather smelly parts, then he will have no business with us. This prideful way of life is witnessed in the times that many baptized adults have withdrawn from the Eucharist.

The statement that some will say, ‘I don’t go to Mass but I pray in my own way,’ might sound pietistic and nice, but is itself saying, I don’t need the Eucharist. Why? Why would anyone who has been admitted to communion ever think that he or she does not need communion? Could it be that we can become so proud that we might think that we do not need to come before God and accept his humbling himself for us. This evening we are reminded that the Meal of Love begins with our humble recognition that we need Christ to empty himself for us. In Jesus, God wants to touch you.

All the same this is far from sufficient. Jesus would not allow his disciples to turn their focus into themselves. He would not allow us to be satisfied with what he does for us. Instead we hear him instruct; you call me teacher and master, and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do for others. The washing of the feet is an evangelical sign of the gift of the Body and Blood of the Lord at the Last Supper and on the Cross.

We are called to witness in the same way by doing what Jesus did. We are called to offer our energies, our savings and even our lives for others. We are not just called to be nourished; we are called to nourish others. An essential element of the Eucharist is found in the mandate of “do to others as you would have them do to you” Luke 6:31. Through the Eucharist we are nourished and are able to nourish others and both must take place. If we are not nourished by Christ, then our actions for others would be mere acts of humanitarianism. If we do receive communion but do not empty ourselves for others, then our reception of the Eucharist is devoid of the very reason why Christ emptied Himself: Jesus Christ emptied himself for us so that we can also empty ourselves for others. Being a Christian is not for the faint of heart, it is for those who have hearts full of love. The common guideline is also given by St. Augustine of Hippo that Love first and then do whatever else you want. 

Application

Today’s readings have a strong spiritual message for us all. First of all, the Feast of Holy Thursday is in remembrance of the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist from where comes the inheritance of salvation and eternal life. The second message is that we are to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in a worthy manner. The third is that to be pleasing to the eyes of God, we must humble ourselves to the extent of washing the feet of others. During our procession with the Blessed Sacrament throughout the Church and into the Hall where we wait and watch with Him in our recreation of the Garden of Olives; we need to pray that we keep awake with him until the moment of his resurrection. Peace be with you.

 

219 Last modified on Thursday, 13 April 2017 13:59

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Welcome to Our Lady of Africa Parish Mbuya. We are located near Bugolobi Township in Nakawa Division. It is about 5 kms from the City Centre of Kampala. Mbuya Catholic Parish is a vibrant and diverse community made up of people from different parts of Uganda. We welcome you warmly and joyfully.

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