Homily for Holy Thursday, 1 April 2021 by Fr. Joe Tedesco
The Triduum has begun. Holy Thursday highlights a powerful theological reality for us: That is the self-transcendent loving service of Christ for our salvation.
John’s Gospel does not share the institution of the Eucharist because for John, the washing of the feet is the same self-giving love as the Eucharist. So, John is giving us a powerful teaching – he’s saying “here’s what a Eucharistic life looks like.” A humble service to others like the washing of the feet of the disciples.
Remember what Jesus said, what we just heard in the Gospel. What I have done for you, you must also do. He says the similar words at the institution narrative of the Eucharist, do this in remembrance of me. You can feel and sense the connection so dramatically. In these actions Jesus reveals the very meaning of His life among us.
So, our loving service to one another is our Eucharistic life lived out. We know this , of course, but the question for each of us is – how do I do it? Are we truly giving of ourselves? Freely, lovingly, understanding the impact of my actions and letting this deep reality shape my actions, shape my attitude and my presence there. Am I saying in my heart, the holy consecrating words of prayer, as I serve my brother and sister – this is my body – this is my blood given for you? Also, am I receiving the body and blood of Christ in my heart as I serve my brother and sister? Truly, we give and we receive Christ in this self-transcendent service.
The echo of Paul’s words in Corinthians are always on our minds and in our hearts, “Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes again.”
And this fulfills in us the command of Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Our gift of loving service is our everlasting sacrifice that we offer to God for our salvation in union with Christ.
What a prayer and what a life we live as Christians and as monks, our loving service forms us into the very body and blood of Christ – the mystical body of Christ, His Church, right here at Mepkin. We, the brothers of Mepkin, are that Mystical body and all those who are with us, who share life with us, form this new spiritual reality – Christ present among us and in us. And we become a living sacrifice of praise to God fulfilling our vocation of continual prayer and love in the name of Christ.
Then this afternoon we have the other incredible dimension of Jesus’ gift – His body and Blood
Present to us in the Eucharist. This is what sustains us, moves us to live for him, energizes us to keep on serving one another. The Body and Blood of Christ received with a heart that is committed to loving service offers us an intimate communion of life with Jesus and with the Father.
From Moses, we understand that the mediator of the sacrifice performed the function of sealing the covenant with blood, thereby consecrating the people of God. Sharing the blood of the sacrificial victim was seen as a sharing of life itself and the supreme revelation of such a sharing of God’s life with us, is the sacrifice of Jesus.
Jesus says in John, just as the living father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. So, my brothers and sisters, sharing in God’s life is the fulfillment of the new covenant and the highest form of mystical union with our creator that Jesus offers us.
So, we adore him, we worship him, we praise him. Christ’s Eucharistic life is indeed our ultimate remembrance of him. Jesus’ self-transcendent love renews the world, redeems the world and brings us to the Father. And of his fullness we have all received, love following on love.