Holy Thursday Homily, March 24th

It’s easy for us to take things for granted, whether a roof over our heads, food on the table, our families & friends, among other things. As chil dren perhaps, we took for granted all our parents did for us or we might take for granted all of the blessings & freedoms of this country.  Too often we focus on the difficulties in our lives instead of realizing all we have, all our blessings.  We take a lot for granted, not to mention the riches of our Catholic faith.

And Jesus asks in tonight’s gospel, “Do you realize what I have done for you?”  This is a night of realization & remembrance.  We remember the Passover, which God commanded through Moses & Aaron. The blood of the slaughtered lamb was put on the doorposts & lintels of the homes of God’s chosen people to spare their 1st born from death… their homes were passed over.  The roasted flesh of this same lamb was also eaten, strengthening & preparing them for flight from slavery in Egypt.  Passover continues to be celebrated as a memorial feast by the Jewish people.  This night is not taken for granted; the very act of remembering is a way of the events being made present again.  It’s a way that God asks, “Do you realize what I have done for you?”

This night we remember another meal, the new Passover, the Eucharist… the first recalled deliverance from slavery, while Jesus in the new Passover offers himself as the lamb to deliver us from the slavery of sin. “This is my body, given up for you. Do this in remembrance of me” “This is my blood, the blood of the new covenant” At the Last Supper Jesus gave us the gift of himself to his apostles and continues to give himself to us today.  Jesus asks, “Do you realize what I have done for you?”

“Do this in remembrance of me” We not only remember the Last Supper, but the same meal is made present to us in the here & now, the same sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is made present, as we are given and receive the real presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharist” Jesus asks, “Do you realize what I have done for you?”

On this same night Jesus instituted the ministerial priesthood. He gave us his first priests, his apostles. The same sacrificial meal is given to us by Jesus only through the Church and his priests, priests who stand in the person of Christ himself.  Through his priests we hear the awesome words of his love & mercy in the sacrament of Reconciliation. Through his priests we feel his healing touch in the anointing of the sick. Through his priests we are welcomed into his Church at baptism & entrusted to our Heavenly Father at death. And through his priests Jesus is present to us in a special way at all points between.  Jesus asks, “Do you realize what I have done for you?”

And on this night we remember Jesus washing the feet of his apostles.  He performed the duty of a humble servant on those who would leave, deny, & betray him.  We recall his new commandment of love, “Love one another as I have loved you”.  Jesus asks, “Do you realize what I have done for you?”  Jesus gives us the model we are to follow to love & serve others, to give all of ourselves.

When we recall, remember, give thanks, and live out what we’ve received from Jesus we no longer take things for granted.  And as Jesus later sent his apostles into the world, we too are sent out.  We hear the deacon or priest in the dismissal at Mass, “Go in peace”, “Go forth the Mass is ended”, “Go & announce the gospel of the Lord”, or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”.  We are called, commanded to carry Jesus and his peace to the world.  Although we may hesitate, Jesus asks us again, “Do you realize what I have done for you?”  He gives us everything here & then asks us, “Now what are you going to do for me?”

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