Homily — Holy Thursday MMVIII

Homily — Holy Thursday MMVIII

In the first reading from Exodus, we hear God telling His People how to celebrate the Passover; how they were to slaughter a lamb on the evening of the first full moon of spring, how they were to eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, how they were to have their robes tucked into their belts and their shoes on when they ate it.

And then God concludes by saying:  This day shall be a memorial feast for you, a yearly feast, which all your generations shall celebrate as a perpetual institution.

But as Christians, we don’t celebrate the old Passover with bitter herbs and roasted lamb (although I every year have Lamb for supper on Holy Thursday!);  we rather believe that the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the New Passover that  the Old one foreshadowed and now is fulfilled by and taken up in.

Easter Sunday has now become the memorial feast which all  generations of believers, Gentile or Jew, shall celebrate each year as a perpetual institution.

But before Jesus ushered in His New Passover, on the evening of the Old Passover, and during the celebration of the Old Passover Seder Meal, Jesus gave His Church Three other things which He also intended to be Perpetual Institutions for all generations of believers.

On this Night, Jesus institutes the Holy Eucharist, the Ministerial Priesthood, and the Mandatum,  the Great Commandment to Love one another as He has loved us.

These three great gifts given to us this Night are like a three-legged chair;  we really won’t have one if we don’t have the other two.

We can’t Love to the degree Jesus calls us to love without the strength that flows from the Eucharist;  and we can’t have the Eucharist w/o the Ministerial Priesthood to consecrate it for us.

And if a Priest does not strive to Love others to the degree Jesus calls Him to in the Great Commandment, His priesthood is not truly pleasing to Christ.

And so tonight, Jesus entrusts to us, His Church on earth, these Three Perpetual Institutions, and He calls us to Perpetuate each of them.

Jesus calls us to perpetuate the priesthood by praying for  vocations to come from the families of our parish, and by supporting and praying for our priests and bishops.

I don’t know who said it, maybe Pope John Paul II or Bishop Sheen or some Saint, but it is said that on Holy Thursday Night at the Last Supper, Jesus consciously thought of and prayed for me and Fr. Marcin and Fr. Blain and every priest who would ever be ordained.  A nice thought.

He calls us to perpetuate the Holy Eucharist by attending Mass each Sunday, by frequent and worthy reception of Holy Communion, and by spending time Adoring the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass whenever possible.

And most especially, Jesus calls us to perpetuate the Great Commandment by serving others selflessly, especially the most poor and vulnerable in our society; and by forgiving those who have offended us.

May the grace of this Last Supper we celebrate with Jesus and the 12 Apostles tonight help us to Cherish and to Perpetuate these three great gifts.

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