I don’t think tonight was a celebration of simply going through the motions, for me, but something more. This was a celebration that brought people into the one sacrifice Christ offered of himself for our sakes.
We were in Christ’s presence tonight.
The Eucharist is the most important thing in the world! Today we thank Christ for instituting that gift–for offering himself for our sakes in order to draw all to himself.
We thank God, today, for instituting the Sacred Priesthood, which make Christ’s presence real. Without it, there’d be no Eucharist. Let’s pray for our priests.
Pope Benedict XVI spoke yesterday on each part of the Sacred Triduum. Here’s what he had to say about Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Last Supper:
In the afternoon Mass, called “In Coena Domini,” the Church commemorates the institution of the Eucharist, the ministerial priesthood and the new commandment of charity, left by Jesus to his disciples. St. Paul gives one of the earliest testimonies of all that happened in the Cenacle, vigil of the Lord’s Passion. “The Lord Jesus,” he wrote, at the beginning of the 50’s years, based on a text he received from the Lord’s own realm, “on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me'” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25). Words charged with mystery, which manifest clearly the will of Christ: Under the species of bread and wine he renders himself present in his body given and with his bloodshed. It is the sacrifice of the new and definitive covenant offered to all, without distinction of race or culture. And from this sacramental rite, which he entrusts to the Church as supreme proof of his love, Jesus appointed his disciples as ministers, and those who followed them in the course of the centuries. Holy Thursday is, therefore, a renewed invitation to render thanks to God for the supreme gift of the Eucharist, to be received with devotion and to be adored with lively faith. Because of this, the Church encourages, after the celebration of Holy Mass, watching in the presence of the Most Holy Sacrament, recalling the sad hour that Jesus passed in solitude and prayer in Gethsemane, before being arrested and then being condemned to death.
Deacon Marc preached on some of this, and also spoke about the washing of the feet ritual. The moment when Jesus washed the feet of his apostles, he said, is terribly misunderstood.
Jesus provides a model: “I, therefore, your master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.” (Jn 13:14). This is not a “theology of good works,” as so many folks seem to think it.
Sorry, but the Last Supper did not happen simply to teach us do be good people and to be nice.
The point of washing of feet is humility! What matters is Christ! What matters is the offering of self for others!