Today is Holy Thursday. It was on this day that Jesus Christ instituted both the Holy Eucharist and the sacred priesthood during the Last Supper.
“Sisters and brothers, this Holy Thursday gathering is neither a party nor an anniversary celebration,” says Bishop Earl Boyea in his Holy Thursday meditation, April 1.
“It is rather a covenant between the God who loves us to the end and ourselves as those made in love, redeemed in love, and now sent forth in love. And it is today that we receive our commission.” Below is Bishop Boyea’s text for today in full:
Bishop Boyea’s Seven Days of Holy Week, Holy Thursday, April 1, 2021:
At the beginning of the consecration of the bread during the Last Supper Mass on Holy Thursday, the priest says, “On the day before he was to suffer for our salvation and the salvation of all, that is today…” The Eucharist celebrated is the same as that celebrated on every other day of the year except for “that is today.” This is not just an anniversary. Rather, we are given another hint about the uniqueness of this day in the first commemoration of the saints when the priest prays: “Celebrating the most sacred day on which our Lord Jesus Christ was handed over for our sake…” Our focus is on Jesus bringing us together and on the gift which Jesus provided before his death for our sake.
But that is not all. In the Gospel we read this night, we hear these words: “He loved his own in the world, and he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). This is all about love. The supper, the Eucharist, the being handed over, and his death the next day are all manifestations of Jesus’s love for his own and for us, manifestations of the incredible love of the Father who gave us his Son to be that love in our midst.
As if all that has been said so far were not enough to enflesh God’s love for us, Jesus takes a towel and basin and washes the feet of his disciples, including those of Judas. Our God is a foot-washer! Here is our God looking up at us as he kneels before us, loving us into loving him and one another.
And this action of Jesus does summon us to do the same. As the Psalm responsorial proclaims: “Our blessing cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.” This is a communion of blood—our Lord’s blood and our blood. His love demands to flow through our lives in love of one another. This is the cup of blessing we share this evening.
Sisters and brothers, this Holy Thursday gathering is neither a party nor an anniversary celebration. It is rather a covenant between the God who loves us to the end and ourselves as those made in love, redeemed in love, and now sent forth in love. And it is today that we receive our commission.