Holy Thursday meditation:
“I HAVE GIVEN YOU A MODEL TO FOLLOW.”
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “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.”
Below you have the meditation of Bishop Javier Echevarria
The Holy Thursday liturgy is very rich in content. It is the great day when the Holy Eucharist was instituted, a gift of heaven for mankind. It is also the day of the institution of the priesthood, a new divine gift that assures the real and effective presence of the Sacrifice of Calvary in all times and places, enabling us to receive its fruits.
HE HIMSELF REMAINS
The moment when Jesus was to offer his life for mankind was approaching. So great was his love that, in his infinite wisdom, he found a way of going and remaining at the same time. St. Josemaría, reflecting on people who are obliged to leave their home and family to earn their living elsewhere, notes that human love makes use of a symbol. Those who are parting exchange a remembrance, perhaps a photograph. Jesus, perfect God and perfect man, does not leave a symbol, but the reality. He himself remains. He goes to the Father, but he remains with us men. He is there, under the species of bread and wine, really present, with his Body, his Blood, his Soul and his Divinity.
How do we correspond to his immense love? By attending Holy Mass, the living and true memorial of the Sacrifice of Calvary, with faith and devotion. By preparing ourselves very well to receive Communion, with our soul well cleansed. By frequently visiting Jesus hidden in the tabernacle.
The first reading from today’s Mass (Ex 12:1-8,11-14) recalls what God stipulated for the people of Israel, so they would not forget the gifts they had received. It goes into great detail, from how the paschal lamb should be prepared, to small observances to help recall the passage of the Lord. If this was prescribed to commemorate events that were only an image of the liberation from sin worked by Jesus, how should we behave now, when we have truly been rescued from the slavery of sin and made children of God.
TO RECEIVE HIM
This is why the Church insists on great care in all that refers to the Eucharist. Do we take part in the Holy Sacrifice every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation with the realization that we are participating in a divine action?
St. John relates that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples before the Last Supper. One has to be clean in soul and body to receive Him worthily. That is why He left us the sacrament of Penance.
We also commemorate the institution of the priesthood. Let us ask, with full sincerity, what St. Josemaría Escrivá used to pray: Lord, put into my heart the love with which you want me to love you.
In today’s scene, our Lady is not physically present, although she was in Jerusalem during those days. We will find her tomorrow at the foot of the Cross. But today, with her discreet and silent presence, she accompanies her Son very closely, in a deep union of prayer, sacrifice and dedication. John Paul II writes that, after our Lord’s ascension into heaven, she took part intensely in the Eucharistic celebration of the early Christians: “The body given up for us and made present under sacramental signs was the same body which she had conceived in her womb! For Mary, receiving the Eucharist must have somehow meant welcoming once more into her womb that heart which had beat in unison with hers” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 56).
Now as well Mary keeps Jesus company in all the world’s tabernacles. We ask her to teach us to be Eucharistic souls, men and women of sure faith and upright piety, who strive never to leave Jesus alone. May we learn how to adore Him, to ask for his forgiveness, to thank Him for his gifts, to keep Him company.
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