Thursday, April 2 @ 5:30 pm
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HOLY THURSDAY
Except for the resurrection on Easter, Holy Thursday is possibly one of the most important and profound days of celebration in our Catholic Church. Holy Thursday celebrates the institution of the Eucharist as the true body and blood of Jesus Christ and the institution of the sacrament of the priesthood. During the Last Supper, Jesus offers himself as the Passover sacrifice, the sacrificial lamb, and teaches that every ordained priest is to follow the same sacrifice in the exact same way.
Because Passover began at sundown, the Holy Thursday Liturgy takes place in the evening, marking the end of Lent and the beginning of the sacred Triduum of Holy Week. These days are the three holiest days in the Catholic Church. The Holy Thursday Mass stresses the importance Jesus puts on the humility of service. That is why the washing of feet is performed to represent the service and charity of Christ, who came “not to be served, but to serve.”
The foot washing makes Eucharist real. It is interesting to notice that in today’s Gospel St. John does not tell us about the institution of the Eucharist. Instead, he emphasizes on the meaning of the extraordinary act of Jesus: the washing of the feet of his disciples. In focusing of this act of Jesus, John tells us that this kind of service should come from those who take part in the Eucharist. If we don’t wash each other’s feet our communion is barren and incomplete. What Jesus does is an example of love and humility. It was an awkward scene. Jesus is stooping to wash feet. Peter is right: the Master should not wash feet. In washing the feet of his disciples Jesus does not look up to see whether they are the feet of Peter, John’s or Judas’. He just wants them to know that his love goes out to all of them. What Jesus does is not an advice or an option. It is a mandate. He tells 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” (Jn. 13: 14-15). Because of what Jesus does, aprons and towels have become symbols of love, care, self-sacrifice, and service. Who can imagine that Jesus makes holy an apron as his garment of service? To wear an apron or a towel becomes a holy act because through the services they symbolize we continue the role of Jesus who comes to serve. Jesus makes the washing of feet—one of the lowliest tasks of service—a priestly act. If our Eucharistic celebration does not include the foot washing, it will lose its meaning.
At the conclusion of the Mass, the faithful are invited to continue Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the night, just as the disciples were invited to stay up with the Lord during His agony in the garden before His betrayal by Judas.
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray. He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me. And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want. Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? (Matthew 26: 36-40).
Can you keep watch for one hour? Hope that you and your family can participate in our Holy Thursday Prayer Vigil beginning right after the Holy Thursday Services until 10:00 pm. The Church’s ramp side door will be kept open for your convenience.