Most often when I prepare a homily or a reflection such as this one, I will take a moment to actually re-write the Scriptural readings for the day in my own shorthand. I cannot explain scientifically what happens in doing this, but it is as though the words travel through my body or I was able to grasp their meaning so that I can almost feel them. The outcome is an understanding of the Scriptures in a way that is different from just reading it off the page with the eyes of your head.
When I did this exercise with the Lord’s Supper Mass readings, I recalled celebrating Seder with Jewish friends around this time last year. I felt it an honor to be in the presence of persons who still vividly identify themselves with the Passover event in Egypt so many centuries ago. The experience helped me understand the kind of presence we have in the Eucharist, of which St. Paul speaks in today’s reading from First Corinthians: “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night He was handed over, took bread…and said, ‘This is My body…do this in remembrance of Me.’”
Today’s dramatic washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus has a similar sense of presence. Whereas the rituals of the Jewish feast of Passover of Jesus’s Last Supper situate us in relationship with God, the act of the washing of the feet complements and connects love of neighbor with love of God in a way only Jesus was able to do. Heaven and earth do indeed come together as one.
Gracious God, grant us the grace to feel Your presence among us as we celebrate the Passover Mystery. May Your Holy Spirit of love be with us both in worship and in the daily living out of our faith. We make our prayer in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
Fr. Marcel Rainville, S.S.E. ‘67, Director of Formation for the Society of St. Edmund
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