With this evening’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper we enter the Paschal Triduum, the journey into the suffering and death of Jesus to his resurrection. We are not simply remembering an historical event, but actively participating in life since every human life involves suffering and death, and those who seek the fullness of life with Jesus are offered resurrection.
The table is a significant place of encounter in the Old Testament: “My table thou has furnished” (Psalm 23). In the gospels Jesus spends a lot of time in the eating and drinking, at table. On the night before his final suffering Jesus gathers those closest to him to the table for the meal at which the Eucharist was instituted.
In the hours that follows the Last Supper Jesus suffers and is put to death, three days later being raised from death bringing us hope in every suffering.
This 3 minute video gives an introduction to the ceremonies of these three days.
- the joy of gathering with close friends (Last Supper)
- the awareness that some are betraying and denying you and even the pain of being abandoned by friends (like Jesus denied and betrayed and abandoned.
- Others not being able to empathise with you (the three friends fell asleep when he needed them in the Garden of Gethsemane)
- A deep call from the heart to “let this cup pass from me” (as Jesus cries out to his Father from the cross), and even the feeling “my God, my God, why have you abandoned me” as Jesus expressed his feeling while knowing for a fact that his Father was leading him forward, through death, to the new life of resurrection.
In these three days Jesus is inviting us to see every suffering we experience in life as the doorway to more abundant life.
Take comfort in this reality, even if your feeling has not yet reached this confidence.
Here’s some Holy Thursday inspiration from one of Pope Benedict’s Holy Thursday homilies.
In comparison with moralism, Christianity is something more and something different. Our activity, our moral capacity is not placed at the beginning. Christianity is above all a gift: God gives himself to us – He does not give some thing, but himself. And this takes place not only at the beginning, at the moment of our conversion. He continually remains the One who gives. He always offers us his gifts anew. He always precedes us. For this reason, the central action of being Christians is the Eucharist: gratitude for having been gratified, the joy for the new life that He gives us.
In spite of all this, we do not remain passive recipients of the divine goodness. God gratifies us as personal and living partners. The love that is given is the dynamic of “loving together,” it is intended to be a new life within us, beginning from God. We thus understand the words that, at the end of the account of the washing of the feet, Jesus speaks to his disciples and to all of us: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34).
The “new commandment” does not consist in a new and difficult norm, one that did not exist before. The new commandment consists in a loving together with Him who loved us first. This is also how we must understand the Sermon on the Mount. This does not mean that Jesus gave us new precepts at that time, which represented the demands of a more sublime humanism than the previous one. The Sermon on the Mount is a journey of training in conforming ourselves to the sentiments of Christ, a journey of interior purification that leads us to living together with Him. The new reality is the gift that introduces us into the mentality of Christ.
If we consider this, we perceive how far we often are in our lives from this new reality of the New Testament; how slight an example we give to humanity of loving in communion with his love. We thus owe humanity a proof of the credibility of Christian truth, which is demonstrated in love. Precisely for this reason, we desire all the more to pray to the Lord to make us, through his purification, ripe for the new commandment.
Holy Thursday is a day of gratitude and of joy for the great gift of love to the end that the Lord has given to us. We want to pray to the Lord at this time, so that gratitude and joy may become in us the power of loving together with his love. Amen.