3 Mysteries Remembered

Holy Thursday
By Fr. Victor Feltes

[Our] 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.’” At this same Supper, Jesus washed his apostles’ feet, drying them with a towel. Then, when he reclined at the table again, Jesus told them, “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.”

For this Mass of Holy Thursday, the Church directs me to preach “a homily in which light is shed on the principal mysteries that are commemorated in this Mass, namely, the institution of the Holy Eucharist and of the priestly Order, and the commandment of the Lord concerning fraternal charity.” This no heavy burden. Jesus makes it easy by his actions that night. At the Last Supper, Christ gives us these precious gifts: his Holy Eucharist, his Holy Priesthood, and his holy model of loving service which he commands us all to follow.

Our Bishop William Callahan noted at this week’s Chrism Mass that without priests there would be no Eucharist, and without the Eucharist there would be no Church. The priesthood is essential to the Eucharist, and the priesthood and the Eucharist are essential to Christ’s Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes the words of the first century bishop and martyr St. Ignatius of Antioch in teaching “that without the bishop, presbyters, and deacons, one cannot speak of the Church.” (CCC #1593) And the Second Vatican Council famously teaches that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” For in the Most Blessed Sacrament is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, for it is Jesus himself. All the Church’s other sacraments, ministries, and good works flow from this one sacrifice, are united to it, and united to Christ.

Perhaps there are young men here tonight with a vocation to the priesthood. If you think you may have this divine calling, I urge you to actively pursue it. If you pursue this path and discover you are not called, you will be no worse off but blessed from the experience, and for the rest of your life you will never have to wonder or worry whether you might have had this calling. But if priesthood is your vocation, you will not find anywhere a greater life.

When Jesus commands at the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of me,” and declares, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do,” he was not only ordaining priests of the New Covenant and showing how them how to serve. Christ’s words are addressed to all disciples; not only that we should faithfully attend Holy Mass, but that we should live the way of love we see from him. The night before offering his Body and Blood on the Cross, Jesus gives these sacramentally in the Eucharist. Before offering up his death on the Cross, we see Jesus humbly provide loving service at table. Do you realize what he has done for you? Jesus has given us a model to follow, so that as he has done for us, we should also do. Do this in memory of him.

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