Holy Thursday Mass, 2024

Homily begins around 34 minute mark in video

Our Gospel begins tonight stating that Jesus knew his time had come to be handed over. And then we hear these beautiful words:

“He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end”.

The Opening Prayer for Mass tonight also helps us focus on this reality of Christ’s love by referring to this Last Supper as the Eucharist which Christ entrusted to the Church as a sacrifice for all eternity, the banquet of his love, so that we may draw from so great a mystery the fullness of charity and life. (see Collect, Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper)

At the Last Supper Jesus instituted the Eucharist. Following the meal, with the washing of the disciples’ feet, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Holy Orders. In each of these sacraments Jesus perpetuates his love until the end of time.

So, how do we make this love of Jesus personal for each of us? Equally important, how do we manifest this love of Jesus as his disciples? 

St. Paul gives us a clue in our second reading tonight from the First Letter to the Corinthians, and it is so important it is repeated in the Eucharistic Prayer at every Mass:

“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. Do this in remembrance of me.”” (1 Corinthians 11: 23-26)

Our faith tells us: “Jesus gave his life for me.” This Holy Thursday, into Good Friday and through to Easter Sunday call us to ‘dig deeply’ into this font of love who is Christ; to not take this love for granted, nor pass over it without allowing the fullness of its truth and mystery to envelop us!

Another manifestation of this love that knows no limits is seen when Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Once again, let us make this act of Jesus personal for us. Who are Jesus’ disciples today? You? Me? Those whose feet are washed tonight are a representation not only of those at table with Jesus at the Last Supper, but all who sit at this banquet throughout the ages – including us tonight. 

This love of Jesus – is immense! Unconditional! Eternal! Unrelenting! And He is constantly crying out to us: “Give in to me!” He says as much in Matthews Gospel: 

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (MT 11:28)

Nature is also a good instructor in the ways of God and Jesus used images of nature constantly in his teaching. For instance, Easter is always celebrated after the first full moon of Spring. During these early days of Spring, we see the struggle of nature, we saw it in the intense winds today, as winter struggles to hold on and spring refuses to be denied. This is Jesus, the Spring Who refuses to be denied. Each of us knows this interior spiritual struggle as well, as the ‘old self’ struggles to remain, while the New Life of Jesus is constantly, lovingly refusing to be denied, to conform us more and more to Himself!

Tonight, we once again give our full and loving attention to Jesus, who has loved us to the end, the Spring of Life who refuses to be denied! 

Finally, permit me to return again to the disciples – and the reality that we as believers today are disciples of Jesus. On the Fifth Sunday of Lent this year, we heard Jesus say:

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, (John 12:25-26)

Jesus gave his life out of love for us. Out of love he has shared his eternal life with us. Now it is up to us to fix our gaze on Christ, to put our life in his loving hands, and to follow and serve Christ all the days of our life, with a love like his.