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Homily – Holy Thursday 2014

Holy Thursday, Year A
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-5
April 17, 2014

As we began Mass tonight, the season of Lent came to a close and the event of Easter is upon us.  Tonight begins the Easter Triduum.

Triduum is Latin for three days.  However, while we celebrate these events over three days, we must not see these happenings as three separate events.  The Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection can only be properly understood as one event.

With that in mind, tomorrow we will celebrate the Crucifixion and then the Resurrection for Easter, but tonight is the Last Supper.

It was no ordinary meal that Jesus celebrated that night.  It was the Passover, the most important time of the year for the Jewish people.

At that meal, Jesus gives us the Eucharist.  I want to emphasize gift because it truly is just that, a gift.  He takes the bread and wine that were already part of the Passover meal and turns it into his Body and Blood.

Thus, we become a Eucharistic people.  The Eucharist was not meant to be celebrated just once.  Paul writes of how Jesus commands us to do this is remembrance of me.  Just as the Passover was declared a memorial feast and a perpetual institution, so too has the Eucharist come to be at Jesus’ command.

What does it mean to be a Eucharistic people?

Obviously, it begins with coming here to celebrate the Mass and to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in the form of bread and wine but it does not end there.

At Mass we hear God’s word and receive the Eucharist and that is paramount to our faith but our faith is not simply to be a passive faith.  We must do something with the faith we had received.

We need to put our faith into action.  We need to take what God has given us and put it into action as people of service.

We need to serve others…

This is what Jesus shows us when he washes the feet of his disciples.  To understand the significance of Jesus washing the feet of disciples we need to look at the customs of the time.  When a person arrived at your house, their feet would be dusty from walking on ‘dusty’ roads.  It was polite and custom to offer a washing of the feet but it was not role of the host to do this.  It would have been the slaves that did it.

So Peter would have been shocked to see Jesus get down to wash his feet.  Jesus was the messiah and should never be the one washing the feet of others.  But Peter accepts Jesus’ words that it must be so.

In just a moment we will commemorate Jesus’ washing of the disciples as I wash the feet of twelve people representing the various demographics of our parish.  It is not a show of who gets to be up front.

I have been in the past both the one having my feet washed and the one doing the washing.  On either side it can be a humbling experience.  For the ones having their feet washed, it can be a humbling experience letting someone else do a task we normally do for ourselves.

As the one doing the foot washing, it’s humbling to me, to bow down before the people I serve but it is a healthy reminder that God did not send me here to have others wait on me but to serve all of you.

How do you serve others and how do you let others serve you?


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