A Reflection for Holy Thursday

Today is the Passover of the Lord. When Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples for the last time, it was different than all the other Passovers he had celebrated. There were no bitter herbs or the Passover Lamb but only bread and wine. It was the Passover of the New Covenant. In this New Passover covenant, Jesus is the Passover Lamb.

The Old Testament Covenant freed people from slavery to freedom. The New Covenant would begin a new revolution, bring about a new liberation, give birth to a new people, initiate a new way of life. Today we are gathered to commemorate this New Covenant.

Jesus Washed Feet

The society of Jesus’ time was a very contentious society. Jesus himself became a victim of betrayal, false witnesses, hate, violence, and finally murder. Even as a victim, Jesus introduced a totally new way of being human. The washing of his feet at the end of his life, and the offering of his flesh and blood at the Last Supper, were merely the culmination of an entire life lived in love, forgiveness, humility, service. And then He said, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (Jn 13:12-15).

On this Holy Thursday as we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and at every celebration of the Eucharist, I hope we can honestly say that we imitate Christ. I hope we can honestly say that we are understanding in the midst of contentions, love in the midst of hate, peace in the midst of discord, selfless service in the midst of selfishness. I hope we can truly say that we are a ‘feet-washing people’.

Jesus Shared Bread and Wine

Just before Jesus was arrested and finally executed, he sat for a meal with his disciples. We often hear that people who are executed are offered one last meal of their favorite dish. At his last meal Jesus was not served a meal. Instead, he served the meal. He went further. He ‘became’ the meal.

As Paul recalls in today’s second reading, “…the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”” (2 Cor 11:23-26). Each time he said to his disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me!”

When Jesus said to his disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me,” he was referring to more than just celebrating Mass over and over again. “Do this in memory of me” means modeling our life on the life, message, and example of Jesus. To ‘remember’ is not merely to recall to memory but to live the life of Jesus. It begins at the Eucharistic meal and culminates in the Eucharistic meal. And then, what we celebrate at the Eucharist we live in our daily lives. This is my hope, that we will “do it in remembrance of Him!”

The Covenant of Love

On the one hand, this New Covenant came about when the Passover Lamb was replaced by the Jesus, the Lamb of God. On the other hand, the New Covenant was a Covenant of Love. Jesus did not die to fulfil the law, but rather, Jesus died to fulfil love.

This has implications. Ever since that first Holy Thursday, we are people of the New Covenant. The New Covenant is an invitation to live the Covenant of love.

This means putting on the mind of Christ.
This means taking on the heart of Christ.
This means being the hands and feet of Jesus.
This means becoming the body of Christ.
We do this by loving the people Jesus loved and in the way he loved.
This means serving the people Jesus served in the way he served.
This means giving our selves selflessly just as Jesus did for the life of the world.
We must not sell ourselves short. In our world, we must be the people of the New Covenant of Love.

Image: Adobe Stock. By RITA C PEREIRA.

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Fr. Satish Joseph was ordained in India in 1994 and incardinated into the archdiocese of Cincinnati in 2008. He has a Masters in Communication and Doctorate in Theology from the University of Dayton. He is presently Pastor at Immaculate Conception and St. Helen parishes in Dayton, OH. He is also the founder Ite Missa Est ministries (www.itemissaest.org) and uses social media extensively for evangelization. He is also the founder of MercyPets (www.mercypets.org) — a charitable fund that invites pet-owners to donate a percent of their pet expenses to alleviate child hunger. MercyPets is active in four countries since its founding in December 2017. Apart from serving at the two parishes, he facilitates retreats, seminars and parish missions.

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