April 9, 2020 – Holy Thursday, Evening Mass of the Lord’s Passion
Click here for the readings (http://cms.usccb.org/bible/readings/040920-lord-s-supper.cfm)
This mass and in fact every time we celebrate the mass, it is so special because it has something to do with “our memory “that has been handed down to us from the first generation of disciples of Jesus. And not just “our memory” but also of “God’s memory of us.”
The Eucharist, which actually means “Thanksgiving,” was made by Jesus in order to celebrate friendship. He was with his disciples to eat the Passover Meal, a ritual that remembers and reenacts the ‘passing over of the Lord’ when the blood of the lamb was applied at the door posts of the Hebrews. Because of that blood, the Lord passed over the houses of His people and stroke down the oppressive Egyptians.
With this celebration which Jesus made his relationship with his disciples into a new and higher form of relationship. This was Jesus’ way of being more intimate with his friends by becoming food for them and now for us.
There are three points that I would like to invite you to reflect on. Let us see and discern then, on how Jesus calls us on this celebration of the Last Supper.
First, “what we eat is what we become.” It is the desire of Jesus that as we receive him as our food in word and flesh (in the form of bread and wine) that we become more like him.
Second, it is also the desire of Jesus that as he becomes part of us, and one in us, then, hopefully, each of us will recognize his presence among ourselves – that is, by being able to recognize in my sister and brother the person of Jesus.
Third, it is also the desire of Jesus to make him not just a mere memory of a distant past but to make him a powerful memory that transforms our present. Jesus asks us, “Do this in memory of me!” or basically means, “Always do this to remember me.”
Here is the power of memory or of our consciousness. As humans, we always treasure our memories. We take photos or videos of events in our life to preserve those important moments.
Our memory is also what makes us more human and even on what makes us “who we are today.” My memory of the past, is what makes me ‘who I am today’ because my very identity, culture, belief, relationships and history are all there in the treasured memories. However, if I will lose my memory, then, I will also lose myself. I will be a madman who is detached from what is in the present because of a lost memory.
However, more than our own human memory, we are also in God’s eternal memory. Indeed, by doing what Jesus asks us, God also remembers us. Yes, God remembers us as his people whom he loves and cherishes despite our failures and unfaithfulness. God remembers us because we are part of God and God is among and with us.
These three desires of Jesus for us bring us into his invitation today and that is to be able to serve one another through a self-sacrificing, loving and generous service. This is symbolized in the washing of the feet where it was the master himself who washed the disciples’ feet.
Jesus showed to us that loving entails humility, by bending down towards the level of those whom we might think as lower than us. By washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus showed that loving is not “power-over.” Jesus tells us then, that in loving we do not take control over the other, not even to exercise manipulation. Jesus shows us that loving is a form of sacrifice where we need to strip ourselves with those things that might prevent us from truly relating with others.
Jesus removed his outer garments and had a towel on his waist. We too are invited to let go of our biases, judgments and condemnations against others, whoever they may be – a family member, relative, friend, co-worker, employee or stranger.
Thus, by washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus empowers them and us today to become his presence in the very context where we are at this very moment. It means that if you are a parent, husband or wife, a son or daughter, you are called to exercise such love and service in your family. Are you a professional or student? Then you too are called to love and serve others within your environment. Are you exercising authority or a leader in a company or community? Then, you too are called to become Jesus’ presence in your own sphere of influence.
The very situation we are in now can be a wonderful opportunity for us to serve and love others. Thus, we commend and express also our gratitude to the many medical frontliners who have given their lives for others. There are already many doctors, nurses and other medical staff who lost their lives from fighting the virus. The many sacrifices of these people make the presence of Jesus alive in our community.
Hopefully, by becoming the presence of Jesus to one another, then, we too shall be able to fulfill also the call of Jesus in his Last Supper, “Do this in memory of me.” In this way, we make Jesus ever alive in us by allowing the grace of Eucharist to transform us including our thoughts, words and actions, the very sign that God is with us because He himself always remembers us. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR