by Fr. M. K. Kuriakose
Pesaha (Passover) Maundy Thursday.
The Holy Week is a very special time for us Orthodox Christians. In personal spirituality of the believers, Orthodox Church mandates the annual confession, absolution and communion before the day of Pesaha during the Holy Week. The idea is to have ALL members to take communion together on that day. Quite a number of people go for confession in this season. A true climax in spirituality! Some important thoughts can be looked at.
1.Pesaha is the sacred memory of the passing of the killer angel over the homes of Israelites whose door-sills were painted with the blood of the lamb as prescribed by God through Moses. The greatest event of the history of Israelites is Pesaha. The way Israelites were redeemed from death of their firstborns and from the hands of cruel Pharaoh of Egypt is compared to the redemption Christians received through the death of God's firstborn Jesus Christ Himself.
2.The unleavened bread eaten by the Israelites on the night of the murder of the firstborns of the Egyptians was observed by the Lord on the day of the Last Supper instituting the Holy Eucharist the central event of Christian especially Orthodox spirituality. Even though we use leavened bread, we still make a ceremonial unleavened bread for all family members. The elder of the family will ceremoniously cut the bread and all take part of it by dipping in sweet syrup. It is also a family reunion occasion.
3.In practice all our members are mandated to take confession prior to the Maundy Thursday so that all those who attend the Holy Eucharist service will normally take part of the Holy Communion. This is, therefore, a unique day in Church life because that day we truly practice the Holy Eucharist in the true way. All other days of Holy Qurbana we have two kinds of people attending the worship, one viewers of the Holy Communion and the others taking part of it. In the Early Church no one was allowed to attend the Holy Qurbana unless they are prepared to take part of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Sometime in history we lost the true way of celebrating the Holy Eucharist as community event. Therefore, the Maundy Thursday is a unique day for us.
4.Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ by ALL members in attendance makes a lot of difference. This guarantees our perfect union with the Lord and with ourselves. We have failed to understand the value of perfect union with the Lord and our community. Because we live in a society with so much discriminations in the name of family status, education, financial strength, gender, religions, political views etc. we have silently agreed that we all should be divided into various groups. We defeat the purpose of God to be a united community that seeks His will. Those of us who take part in the Body and Blood of the Lord must understand what it means to be united with the Lord and prove to the rest of the world "how we love one another". We lost that witness these days.
5.The Last Supper signified the supreme example shown by our Lord by serving His disciples. The Lord acted like a servant and washed the feet of the disciples. He taught them that a truly great person will have no hesitation to serve others like a servant. The feet-washing ceremony of the present times by our bishops is an attempt to show to our people the same example that our Lord taught. It is a moving ritual that our bishops do every year. It is important that an attempt is made by our leaders to practice what our Lord taught.
6.The grand mystery of the incarnation is visibly wrought out on Pesaha Day. The self-emptying Lord coming into our lives in the form of His Body and Blood transforming us into a deified community that seeks only the will of God. Thus our union becomes perfect. The Early Church lived like such a community where there was no discrimination of any kind. Just imagine, how much we have gone away from the teaching of our Lord. Will we ever be able to realize our true goal of uniting the entire human race into one community that is united perfectly? If so, such a community will pave the way for a new humanity. This is the greatest challenge we have. May God help us to grow to that stature.
Passion Week Supplement
Great Lent Resources - HomeDevotional Thoughts for Maundy Thursday -Pesaho
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril
Devotional Thoughts for Holy Passover
by Rev. Deacon Gregory Varghese
Pesaha in the New Testament Tradition
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril
Holy Thursday Sermon - A Good Death
Sermon by Dn. M.E. Studebaker
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