Holy Thursday – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
(Exodus 12:1-8.11-14; I Corinthians 15:23-26; John 13:1-15)
At a Jewish Passover meal the youngest at table asks, “Why is tonight different from all other nights?” We might propose a similar question for our Eucharist this evening. How is this mass different from other masses? The answer is that in this mass we give particular importance to remembering.
The word remember literally means to put the component parts or members back together. When we remember, we recreate a past event in our minds so that its significance may be present to us now. This evening we remember three events found in Scripture readings. First, we recall God’s liberating the Israelites from their exile in Egypt. Second, we reestablish Jesus’ initiation of the Eucharist at the Paschal Supper the night before he died. And finally, we bring to mind Jesus’ astonishing humility when he washes his disciples’ feet.
The story of Israel’s liberation tells us that God acts to relieve those suffering injustice. God cares about other peoples as well as those who explicitly follow His Son. In the commemoration of the Lord’s Supper we are reminded that the Eucharist is both a banquet and a sacrifice. It should be performed to uplift the body and the soul. Beautiful music and strong signs will enhance the former dimension. The final instance of remembrance moves us from ritual to daily practice. Jesus shows us how we are to follow him to eternal life by loving service to others.