Homily – Holy Thursday MMX 4/1/10

Homily – Holy Thursday MMX 4/1/10

Pawtuxet River, 11 ft above flood stage, 3/31/10

Pawtuxet River, 11 ft above flood stage, 3/31/10

Our thoughts and prayers go out to anyone whose loved ones have been adversely affected by the terrible flooding we have been experiencing.

As many of you know, I come from Coventry, and my parents live only a quarter of a mile from the South Branch of the Pawtuxet River, thankfully on high ground. Most of the major roads in Coventry are closed; my friend Fr. Kelley, Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul has 18 inches of water in the Church basement and no heat, half of his parish yesterday and most of today was under mandatory evacuation from a dam 150 yards from the Church which threatened to give way, one of the homes evacuated is a duplex my mother grew up in and my parents lived in when they were first married.

The Warwick Mall I grew up going to is now Lake Warwick Mall, with cars almost totally submerged in water, as is many other shopping centers and homes in the Cranston and Warwick area.

Macy's at the Warwick Mall, Warwick RI, 3/31/10

Macy's at the Warwick Mall, Warwick RI, 3/31/10

Thankfully, the Blackstone Valley has been spared, and thankfully also no lives have been lost, but certainly this will be a financial and emotional hardship for many many people and our prayers go out to them this Holy Thursday.

But in the midst of all these trials, and in the midst of the many other trials you and I our facing, tonight, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, invites us to come to Higher Ground, to this Upper Room where no flood waters can reach.

Here in this Upper Room tonight, Jesus gives us three gifts which will help us weather any storm this life can bring us, three gifts which will enable us to walk across the stormy waters: Jesus this night gives us the Eucharist, the Priesthood, and the New Commandment to Love One another as Christ has loved us.

Just as the Holy Trinity is One God in Three Persons, in a similar way these three Gifts are really One Gift in Three Forms.

For Jesus our Lord and Savior is both truly present and truly hidden in all three Gifts.

He is most of all truly present in the Holy Eucharist. This is Jesus’ Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity – Jesus, whose Word in the Beginning Created the Whole Universe, who said “Fiat Lux – Let there be light” and there was light, and it was good, tonight says “Hoc est Corpus Meum – This is my Body, this is my Blood” — and ordinary Bread and Wine are Transubstantiated into the Flesh and Blood of Jesus, the Bread of Angels.

And in order to continue giving us this Bread from Heaven until the end of time, Jesus this night Ordains the first Twelve Priests of the New and Everlasting Covenant. And as the Saints and most recently Pope John Paul II tells us, not only did He ordain those Twelve Priests, but He also held in His Sacred Heart and thought of Fr. Charland, Fr. Blain, Fr. Marcin, Fr. Woolley and every man who would be called to the priesthood until the end of time.

Like the Eucharist, Jesus is truly present in each and every validly ordained priest. We call priests alter Christus – other Christs. The priest says “This is my Body” not “This is the Body of Jesus”, He says in confession “I absolve you from your sins” not “Christ absolves you” because the priest is another Christ.

In this Year of the Priesthood, may we this Night in a special way thank God for the gift and the mystery which is the Holy Priesthood, and pray that all priests may be more and more converted inwardly, that all their thoughts, desires, words and actions may be those of Christ the High Priest whose dignity they sacramentally partake in.

Let us pray in a special way that This Night, as He sits at table, that Jesus is even now thinking of some young man or boy in our parish, calling Him to one day “Do this in remembrance of Me” to one day give his life totally to Jesus and His Church as an Ordained Priest.

Finally Jesus is present in the New Commandment He gives us this night “As I have washed your feet, so you must wash each others feet, As I have loved you, so you must love one another”

And Jesus washes the Apostle’s feet and gives them the New Commandment after He has given them the Eucharist and the Priesthood.

This is because the gift of the Eucharist enables us to live out that New Commandment.

The Gift of the Eucharist, if worthy received, fills us with the Peace of Christ and raises our Hearts to the Joys of Heaven. But the Eucharist also fills our Hearts with a burning desire to like Jesus, humble ourselves and take the form of a servant, it makes us want to stoop down and wash the grime and sewer water off the feet of those knee deep in the mud.

And in that act of service to the poor and needy, we will also encounter Our Lord and Savior Jesus, truly present and hidden in the Poor. Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, to the physically or spiritually sick or suffering, to the flood victim, the stranger, to the unwanted and rejected by society, that you do unto me.

And so on this Holy Night, as we recline with Jesus in this Upper Room, may Christ renew our love and appreciation for these Three Gifts which bring Jesus to us, and which raise our Humanity above all the storms and floods that this fallen world can bring our way.

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