April 18, 2019
by Tamora Whitney
Creighton University's English Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Holy Thursday – Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper
Lectionary: 39

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
Psalms 116:12-13, 15-16BC, 17-18
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-15

Praying with the Sacred Triduum

Preparing for Holy Thursday

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Pope Francis' Homily for Priests at the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass

Spring used to be New Year’s. Spring is the anniversary of creation, so it seems an appropriate New Year celebration: A perfect new beginning. In the first reading God says the Passover is the first month. It’s the new beginning, and a beginning that is remembered every year. In the second reading Jesus creates the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, beginning the church, and Easter is the beginning of the church year. Through this Passover dinner with his disciples, Jesus explains how he gives himself to them and to us all through his sacrifice and our sharing of it. It’s an important beginning. And one we remember every time we go to Mass and share in the Eucharist. But in the Gospel verse and the Gospel Jesus gives us a bigger picture about what that means.

The Gospel verse says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” We will see tomorrow that Jesus loved us enough to die for us. We see in the Gospel that even though he is teacher and master and God, he still serves. He washes the feet of his disciples. He takes a towel and a water basin and washes the road dust and dirt from the feet of these men who have walked long distances in sandals. Peter is embarrassed. This is a more private act, or an act for a servant to be doing for a master, not the other way around. But Jesus is turning things around. The greatest will be the least, and the least will be the greatest. He is the greatest, but he performs a very lowly, but very intimate act by washing the feet of his friends. And by this example, tells them what it means to “love each other as I loved you.”  They must serve, not stand above or apart. Not pontificate or set themselves up as authorities, but be there in the trenches with others. Jesus gave his body and blood, gave his life, and washed their feet. Rinsed their dirty, smelly, feet, then wiped them with a towel. Touched them. Jesus loved us by being born a baby, a human baby, growing up, healing people, helping people, knowing people. And then dying for us all. Through his life, through the Eucharist, through his death he showed his love for us in his intimacy, in becoming man, and in dying. We can show our love for him by showing our love for each other. We can heal people, help people, know people, and through that, know and love God.

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