Holy Thursday – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
(Exodus 12:1-8.11-14; I Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15)
The word remember literally means to put the pieces (or members) back together. When we remember something, our minds restore the image that has been dispersed through time. We remember a story by calling to mind its basic elements; for example, a man had two sons: one left to spend his inheritance foolishly while the other begrudged his brother a welcome upon returning. Today’s readings are all about remembering and assigning new meaning to what is recalled.
The first reading gives the mandate to all the children of Israel to remember God’s liberation of their ancestors from slavery. They are to recall the gracious act by reenacting the meal eaten on the eve of its occurrence. The second reading from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians itself remembers how Jesus gave new meaning to the mandate when faithfully fulfilling it. For his followers the meal to be shared will no longer remember God’s deliverance of the Israelites from political oppression. From that moment it will remember Jesus’ offering of himself as the means of their liberation from sin.
The reading from the Gospel according to John presents a new dimension of Jesus’ anticipated paschal supper with his disciples. The meal is replaced by the symbolic washing of his followers’ feet. Typical of John’s gospel Jesus interprets the meaning of his action. As he serves his disciples by both washing their feet and dying for them the following day, they must serve one another. In other words, Christians are to love one another to the point of dying on her or his behalf.
We are entering into the mysteries of our salvation. More than mandates of self-sacrifice they include the graces of the Holy Spirit. We go forward to celebrate them with solemn joy. We will be challenged unto death but at the same time renewed for eternal life.