Thursday, April 18, 2019

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 pose a similar question for our Eucharist this evening. How is this mass different from other masses?  A fitting answer would be that in this mass we emphasize the act of remembering. 

The word remember literally means to put component parts or members back together.  When we remember we recreate what existed in the past to make it present to us now.  This evening we remember three events found in the Scripture readings.  First, we recall God’s liberating the Israelites from their exile in Egypt.  Second, we reestablish Jesus’ initiation of the Eucharist on the night before he died.  Finally, we bring to mind Jesus’ astonishing demonstration of service as he washes his disciples’ feet.

Dogs can remember in a sense, and we regularly pay a compliment to computers by speaking of their memory.  We must distinguish human remembering from the trivial memories attributed to animals and machines.  When we remember, we assign to a past event a meaning that shapes our lives.  In remembering the liberation of the Israelites we think of our deliverance from sin.  The Father has sent the Son to die and rise so that our chain of selfishness may be broken.  Remembrance of the first Eucharist allows us to imagine the celestial banquet in which we hope to participate.  We believe that our following Jesus will bring us to full union with him and all the saints in eternity.  Our final instance of remembering shows us Jesus’ way.  Moved by the Holy Spirit, we render loving service to one another. Now we can look forward to glory.