Holy Thursday – also called “Manday Thursday”*
Saint for the day: Dominican St. Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419)
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Jesus says, “I give you a new command - ’mandatum’ to do as I have done.”
Today’s liturgy celebrates the institution of the Eucharist and the Ministry of Priesthood. Yet we don’t hear a Gospel that supports these to important parts of our Christian belief. What we hear, rather, is the account of Jesus – whom we call Lord and Master – assuming the role of a slave and washing the feet of his closest friends. Afterwards he says – paralleling the same words used in the Institution of the Eucharist – “…do this in memory of Me.”
First He gives us his body and blood but doesn’t let us just stay there thinking how blessed we are to be this close to Jesus. He moves us out of our “private, upper rooms” and does something unbecoming of a teacher and leader – and washes the feet of His closest friends.
What does this tell us about our Catholic faith? Once again it reminds us that our faith in Jesus is never just adoration of the Eucharist. Or only works or ministry and service. Like always, it is both and. We tend to put a lot of focus on the sacredness of the Eucharist and the dignity of the priesthood and forget that both these important sacraments must, somehow, be seen as integral parts of our Christian life. We tend to celebrate the Eucharist and Ordinations with a lot of pomp and ceremony and then follow it up with a party. Jesus gave us the Eucharist as His Body and Blood – food for the journey – and as a servant washed the feet of his apostles. After this, He went to His death on the Cross. “… no greater love than to lay down one’s life for friends.”
Today’s liturgical celebration is an important one that gives us two primary foundations of our Faith: sharing in the Body and Blood – the life – of Jesus and the call to, “go out and do what you have seen me do.”
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The very Rev. Fr. Lewis Mary Shea, OP was a Dominican friar from the Chicago Central Province of St. Albert the Great,...
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8