The Holy Thursday liturgy teaches us a most important lesson about the Sacrament of the Eucharist and about Service, both of which are essential to what Christianity is or should be all about. In the Celebration of the Eucharist or Mass, Christ is present to us as Food and Drink, or as Nourishment, for our spiritual life or our life with Christ and, in and through Christ, our life with one another. In this sense, the Eucharist ideally is a major source of unity among Christians and an ideal or model of unity among all of God’s people.
The Celebration of the Eucharist is meant, as well, to be connected with our life outside of our participation in the Mass. This point is dramatically made in the Holy Thursday liturgy. We should note in John’s Gospel account that there is no explicit mention made of the institution or origin of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as there is in the Gospel accounts of Mark, Matthew and Luke, and also by St. Paul.
What we do have in John’s account, however, is the telling of Jesus’ performing the very humble act of washing the feet of His friends at the “Last Supper,” an action that would be seen as a form of extraordinary humble service, which disturbed the apostle Peter who, evidently, considered such a service beneath Jesus. Yet, Jesus made it absolutely clear to Peter and to us, as well, that Service is essentially connected with the Eucharist: we, like the apostles, are to depart from our celebrations of the Eucharist to serve God and the world about us in whatever way or ways we can and should.
We pray, then, that we will come to an ever deeper appreciation of the connection of the Mass with Service, and that we will, with the help of the Holy Spirit, use our gifts and our talents and our love to serve God and God’s people.
Fr. Raymond Doherty, S.S.E. ‘51, Campus Minister
First Reading: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
Psalm 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Gospel: John 13:1-15
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website