Malankara World Journal Maundy Thursday (Pes'ho) and The New Commandment
Passion Week Special - 3
Volume 3 No. 133 March 25, 2013
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
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We come to the most important days of Passion Week. Maundy Thursday (Pes'ho or Pessaha) is the day our Lord Jesus Christ instituted our Qurbana or mass. He gave us a new covenant and a new commandment ("Love one another as I have loved you"). We are also told that in His Kingdom, a leader's job is to serve. He demonstrated this by washing the disciple's feet. We take lot of things for granted these days. Many people do not understand the significance of our Qurbana. I came across a quote by Pope Pius X:
"The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. It is the Sacrifice dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the Altar. If you wish to hear the Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart, and mouth all that happens at the Altar.
Our qurbana is known as the living sacrifice. To partake in it, we need to come prepared. We need to present ourselves in front of our merciful god with a contrite heart, acknowledging that we are sinners and we do not deserve to be in His presence. We are eligible to be here only because of the redemptive work undertaken by our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.Pope Francis made the power of God's mercy his central message in his first Angelus Message delivered last week. Here are some highlights from his homily:
Please meditate on these powerful insights. It will help us to get the most from our attendance in our services.
This is the third of the Malankara World Journal Passion Week specials. Here are the planned specials:
Issue 131 - Theme: Fortieth Friday and Lazarus SaturdayWe hope that you will be spiritually nourished and blessed during this passion week. Dr. Jacob Mathew
Passover (Maundy Thursday)
Third Hour (9 a.m.)
Noon (12 p.m.)
Before Holy Qurbana
Ninth Hour (3 p.m.)
For Feet Washing Service
Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:31-35)
Malankara World has a supplement that provides detailed information about Passion Week including articles, prayers, sermons, etc. You will find it here:
Daily Meditations, Prayers and Reflections
Malankara World has developed a daily plan of bible readings, meditations, reflections, and prayers for Passion Week. Please click on the link below for the day to read the reflection for that day.
by Mel Lawrenz
The word "Maundy" comes from the Latin word for commandment (mandatum), which Jesus talked about when he told his disciples that he was leaving them "a new commandment," that they "love one another." There were probably so many things going on in the disciples' minds in that upper room where they had their last supper together, including fear and bewilderment from Jesus telling them that someone in that very room would betray him.
Jesus handed the betrayer a piece of bread, just as he had been feeding all his disciples all along. Always giving, always gracing. Jesus fed thousands of people with fish and loaves, and every word that came out of his mouth was spiritual food for those who listened and understood. But on this night he fed them differently. Passing the bread, and then the wine, he spoke ominous, comforting words: "this is my body... this is my blood." This was not an ordinary supper, not even an ordinary Passover. His words connected with what he had said on the shores of far-away Galilee "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.... whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn. 6:35, 54).
Jesus told them to repeat this unique meal in the future, and then it was time to go out into the chilly night. In a quiet garden among olive trees, quiet but for the deep night sounds of dogs barking in the distance, Jesus prayed. In agony he prayed. The specter of shameful execution and of bearing the curse of sin tore into the human consciousness of Jesus. And in the end it was sheer obedience to the divine plan that carried Jesus into the hands of the conspirators waiting for him. Did the disciples remember "the new command"?
Ponder This: What would have been going on in your mind had you been one of the disciples at the last supper or in the garden of Gethsemane?
Source: The Brook Network
by Rev. Fr. Dr. V. C. Varghese
Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacle were the three most important feasts on the Jewish religious calendar (Lev.23). As we all know that the feast of Passover commemorated the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and it was a time for both remembering and rejoicing. Thousands of pilgrims crowded in and around Jerusalem during the week of Passover celebration. According to the Antiquities of the Jews vi, ix (Josephus) about 250,500 paschal lambs were slaughtered during the Passover feast.
There is a chronological difference that the Gospel writers are contradicting each other. According to John 18:28, the Jewish leaders had not yet eaten the Passover, and the day Jesus was tried and condemned was "the preparation of the Passover" (John 19:14).
There is a possible solution suggested by Robert Thomas and Stanley Gundry in "Harmony of the Gospel." The Jews at that time reckoned days in one of two ways: from sunset to sunset or from sunrise to sunrise. The first approach was traditionally Jewish (Gen.1:5, our Church follows the Syriac tradition same as Jewish), while the second was Roman. The synoptic Gospel writers used the Jewish way and John the Roman way. Apparently the Jewish leaders followed the Roman form of reckoning (John 18:28), while Jesus and the disciples followed the Jewish form. Our Lord was crucified on Passover at the time when the lambs were being slain, becoming a fulfillment of Old Testament type.
There were seven distinct actions were mentioned:
The scene was a summary of His Incarnation. Rising up from the Heavenly Banquet in intimate union of the nature with the Father, He laid aside the garment of His glory wrapped about His Divinity the towel of human nature which He took from Mary, poured the laver of regenation which is His Blood shed on the Cross to redeem men, and began washing the souls of His disciples and followers through the merit of His death, Resurrection and Ascension. (Life of Christ: F.J. Sheen)
The Passover feast opened with a prayer of thanksgiving, followed by the drinking of the first of four cups of wine mixed with water. Next they ate the bitter herbs and sang Psalms 113-114. Then They drink the second cup of wine and began eating the roasted lamb and the unleavened bread. After drinking the third cup of wine, they sang Psalms 115-118; and then the fourth cup passed among them.
The following are the four cups of wine served at the Passover with a meal that symbolizes the tears and suffering of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt.
When Jesus and His disciples came to the final cup during their celebration of the Passover, Jesus refused to drink from the Messiah's cup. He took it, gave thanks, and told His disciples, "Take this and divide it among yourselves: for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes" (Luke 22:17-18) (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah : Alfred Edersheim). Since the Jews rejected their Messiah, Jesus out-rightly rejected them by not drinking from the cup of the Messiah. It is likely that at the time of the fourth cup of wine, Jesus instituted the Eucharist.
The Holy Last Supper encourages us to look back with love and adoration to what He did for us on the cross and look forward with hope and anticipation to His coming again. Since we must be careful not to come to the Lord's table with known sin in our lives, the Holy Supper should also be an occasion for looking within, examining our hearts, and confessing our sins (1Cor. 11:27-32).
by Pope Benedict XVI (now Pope Emeritus)
Gospel: St. John Chapter 17
In his Gospel, Saint John, more fully than the other three evangelists, reports in his own distinctive way the farewell discourses of Jesus; they appear as his testament and a synthesis of the core of his message. They are introduced by the washing of feet, in which Jesus' redemptive ministry on behalf of a humanity needing purification is summed up in a gesture of humility. Jesus' words end as a prayer, his priestly prayer, whose background exegetes have traced to the ritual of the Jewish feast of atonement. The significance of that feast and its rituals - the world's purification and reconciliation with God - is fulfilled in Jesus' prayer, a prayer which anticipates his Passion and transforms it into a prayer.
The priestly prayer thus makes uniquely evident the perpetual mystery of Holy Thursday: the new priesthood of Jesus Christ and its prolongation in the consecration of the Apostles, in the incorporation of the disciples into the Lord's priesthood. From this inexhaustibly profound text, I would like to select three sayings of Jesus which can lead us more fully into the mystery of Holy Thursday.
First, there are the words:
Everyone wants to have life. We long for a life which is authentic, complete, worthwhile, full of joy. This yearning for life coexists with a resistance to death, which nonetheless remains unescapable. When Jesus speaks about eternal life, he is referring to real and true life, a life worthy of being lived. He is not simply speaking about life after death. He is talking about authentic life, a life fully alive and thus not subject to death, yet one which can already, and indeed must, begin in this world. Only if we learn even now how to live authentically, if we learn how to live the life which death cannot take away, does the promise of eternity become meaningful. But how does this happen? What is this true and eternal life which death cannot touch? We have heard Jesus' answer: this is eternal life, that they may know you - God - and the one whom you have sent, Jesus Christ.
Much to our surprise, we are told that life is knowledge. This means first of all that life is relationship. No one has life from himself and only for himself. We have it from others and in a relationship with others. If it is a relationship in truth and love, a giving and receiving, it gives fullness to life and makes it beautiful. But for that very reason, the destruction of that relationship by death can be especially painful, it can put life itself in question. Only a relationship with the One who is himself Life can preserve my life beyond the floodwaters of death, can bring me through them alive.
Already in Greek philosophy we encounter the idea that man can find eternal life if he clings to what is indestructible - to truth, which is eternal. He needs, as it were, to be full of truth in order to bear within himself the stuff of eternity. But only if truth is a Person, can it lead me through the night of death. We cling to God - to Jesus Christ the Risen One. And thus we are led by the One who is himself Life. In this relationship we too live by passing through death, since we are not forsaken by the One who is himself Life.
But let us return to Jesus' words - this is eternal life: that they know you and the One whom you have sent.
Knowledge of God becomes eternal life. Clearly "knowledge" here means something more than mere factual knowledge, as, for example, when we know that a famous person has died or a discovery was made. Knowing, in the language of sacred Scripture, is an interior becoming one with the other. Knowing God, knowing Christ, always means loving him, becoming, in a sense, one with him by virtue of that knowledge and love. Our life becomes authentic and true life, and thus eternal life, when we know the One who is the source of all being and all life. And so Jesus' words become a summons: let us become friends of Jesus, let us try to know him all the more! Let us live in dialogue with him! Let us learn from him how to live aright, let us be his witnesses! Then we become people who love and then we act aright. Then we are truly alive.
Twice in the course of the priestly prayer Jesus speaks of revealing God's name. "I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world" (v. 6).
"I have made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them" (v. 26).
The Lord is alluding here to the scene of the burning bush, when God, at Moses' request, had revealed his name. Jesus thus means to say that he is bringing to fulfillment what began with the burning bush; that in him God, who had made himself known to Moses, now reveals himself fully. And that, in doing so, he brings about reconciliation; that the love with which God loves his Son in the mystery of the Trinity now draws men and women into this divine circle of love.
But what, more precisely, does it mean to say that the revelation made from the burning bush is finally brought to completion, fully attains its purpose? The essence of what took place on Mount Horeb was not the mysterious word, the "name" which God had revealed to Moses, as a kind of mark of identification. To give one's name means to enter into relationship with another. The revelation of the divine name, then, means that God, infinite and self-subsistent, enters into the network of human relationships; that he comes out of himself, so to speak, and becomes one of us, present among us and for us. Consequently, Israel saw in the name of God not merely a word steeped in mystery, but an affirmation that God is with us.
According to sacred Scripture, the Temple is the dwelling-place of God's name. God is not confined within any earthly space; he remains infinitely above and beyond the world. Yet in the Temple he is present for us as the One who can be called - as the One who wills to be with us. This desire of God to be with his people comes to completion in the incarnation of the Son. Here what began at the burning bush is truly brought to completion: God, as a Man, is able to be called by us and he is close to us. He is one of us, yet he remains the eternal and infinite God. His love comes forth, so to speak, from himself and enters into our midst.
The mystery of the Eucharist, the presence of the Lord under the appearances of bread and wine, is the highest and most sublime way in which this new mode of God's being-with-us takes shape.
"Truly you are a God who is hidden, O God of Israel", the prophet Isaiah had prayed (45:15).
This never ceases to be true. But we can also say: Truly you are a God who is close, you are a God-with-us. You have revealed your mystery to us, you have shown your face to us. You have revealed yourself and given yourself into our hands… At this hour joy and gratitude must fill us, because God has shown himself, because he, infinite and beyond the grasp of our reason, is the God who is close to us, who loves us, and whom we can know and love.
The best-known petition of the priestly prayer is the petition for the unity of the disciples, now and yet to come: "I do not ask only on behalf of these - the community of the disciples gathered in the Upper Room - but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me, and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (v. 20ff.; cf. vv. 11 and 13).
What exactly is the Lord asking for? First, he prays for his disciples, present and future. He peers into the distance of future history. He sees the dangers there and he commends this community to the heart of the Father. He prays to the Father for the Church and for her unity.
It has been said that in the Gospel of John the Church is not present. Yet here she appears in her essential features: as the community of disciples who, through the apostolic preaching, believe in Jesus Christ and thus become one. Jesus prays for the Church to be one and apostolic. This prayer, then, is properly speaking an act which founds the Church. The Lord prays to the Father for the Church. She is born of the prayer of Jesus and through the preaching of the Apostles, who make known God's name and introduce men and women into the fellowship of love with God. Jesus thus prays that the preaching of the disciples will continue for all time, that it will gather together men and women who know God and the one he has sent, his Son Jesus Christ.
He prays that men and women may be led to faith and, through faith, to love. He asks the Father that these believers "be in us" (v. 21); that they will live, in other words, in interior communion with God and Jesus Christ, and that this inward being in communion with God may give rise to visible unity. Twice the Lord says that this unity should make the world believe in the mission of Jesus. It must thus be a unity which can be seen - a unity which so transcends ordinary human possibilities as to become a sign before the world and to authenticate the mission of Jesus Christ.
Jesus' prayer gives us the assurance that the preaching of the Apostles will never fail throughout history; that it will always awaken faith and gather men and women into unity - into a unity which becomes a testimony to the mission of Jesus Christ. But this prayer also challenges us to a constant examination of conscience. At this hour the Lord is asking us: are you living, through faith, in fellowship with me and thus in fellowship with God? Or are you rather living for yourself, and thus apart from faith? And are you not thus guilty of the inconsistency which obscures my mission in the world and prevents men and women from encountering God's love? It was part of the historical Passion of Jesus, and remains part of his ongoing Passion throughout history, that he saw, and even now continues to see, all that threatens and destroys unity.
As we meditate on the Passion of the Lord, let us also feel Jesus' pain at the way that we contradict his prayer, that we resist his love, that we oppose the unity which should bear witness before the world to his mission.
At this hour, when the Lord in the most holy Eucharist gives himself, his body and his blood, into our hands and into our hearts, let us be moved by his prayer. Let us enter into his prayer and thus beseech him: Lord, grant us faith in you, who are one with the Father in the Holy Spirit. Grant that we may live in your love and thus become one, as you are one with the Father, so that the world may believe. Amen.
By Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D.
Scripture: Sir. 3:17-18; Lk. 14:11
The basic theme of today's Gospel is humility.
Our Lord strongly emphasized the virtue of humility in His teaching. He began His Sermon the Mount with, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Mt. 5:3) "Poor in spirit" translates ptochoi, which means "lowly," "humble."
Humble childlikeness, He said, is required for entry into heaven: "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 18:3-4).
Indeed, the only personal quality of Jesus which He urged on His followers is meekness, humility. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Mt. 11:29) The Greek word for "gentle" is praus, which means "meek," "gentle," "kind." The word for "lowly" is tapeinos, "humble," "lowly," "modest." I daresay none of us knows enough about humility, and none of us consistently exemplifies the virtue of humility. So let's start with the opposite of humility. Let's start with something we all know a lot about; something most of us too frequently exemplify - I speak now of pride.
Pride is an illusion: the illusion of self-sufficiency. Pride is the notion that one really is in charge of his own life; that one is the true author of all that good he is and does; that one deserves - or largely deserves - all the good that comes to him. In the medieval list of deadly sins, pride came first. Why? Because at the root of every sin is pride, the determination to have one's own way. The sin of pride is its defiance of God: "not thy will, but mine be done!"
In my sophomore year in college I came across William Ernest Henley's poem "Invictus" ("Unconquered"). I quickly memorized the poem because I thought it was very manly, very courageous.
Out of the night that covers me, Black as a pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.
And then there is a recurring refrain: "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." Some years later I came to realize that what had seemed to so triumphant to me in my youth is in fact a loud cry of despair. Despair born of the illusion of pride.
But now let's look at what the Church and her saints tell us about the virtue of humility. Based on the Church's tradition, we can say that the virtue of humility is living the truth about ourselves in our relationship with God.
Our first parents unleashed sin in the world through their pride, wanting to be like God and to be their own masters. As a result, they lost heaven for themselves and for us. Since their disobedience and our disobedience offend God Himself, it is only He who can make full reparation for our sin. And God has done exactly that, through the humility of His Son Jesus.
The virtue of humility has no place in the divine nature of Christ, who being one God with the Father has no superior. But humility is an essential dimension of His human nature. And we know that the greater the dignity of a person, the greater merit there is in that person's virtue of humility. Since Christ has ultimate dignity - the dignity of divinity - the merit of His humility is beyond all human understanding.
Think of what He has done for us in his humility! "Though he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:6-8).
"Humility is Truth"
The word "humility" suggests lowliness and submissiveness. It comes from the Latin word humilitas, which in turn is derived from the Latin word humus, which means the earth.
St. Thomas wrote that "the virtue of humility consists in keeping oneself within one's own bounds." That is, humility means recognizing and acting on our total dependence on God. Total dependence not only for life itself, but for every single good thing in our lives. Our opening collect today addresses God by recalling that "every good thing comes from you." That's why the St. Thérèse claimed that "humility is truth"--truth about ourselves.
The virtue of humility, therefore, is a pre-requisite to faith itself. In fact, we can say that the depth of our faith will be in direct proportion to the depth of our humility. Humility is sometimes called "the first virtue," in that it casts pride aside and helps a person become open to the working of God's grace. "'God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble'" (Jas. 4:6).
Indeed, we must recognize that humility is essential to the practice of all the virtues. That's why our blessed Lord so strongly enjoined on us the virtue of humility.
To grow in humility is to grow in appreciation of God's rich gifts in everyone, including those in oneself. Many of us are familiar with C.S. Lewis's book The Screwtape Letters. It purports to be a series of letters written by Screwtape, a chief tempter in hell, telling a young tempter on earth, Wormwood, how to snag victims for hell. Throughout the book, Screwtape refers to God as "the Enemy." Screwtape warns Wormwood that the virtue of humility in a victim is a great obstacle to bringing that person into hell.He explains:
The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour's talents. . . . He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things. (73)
One indicator of one's humility is the way in which we ordinarily receive compliments. Are we embarrassed? Do we dismiss the compliment, or do we try to make a joke about it? Or do we simply say "thank you" and then praise God (either silently or quietly) for having given the gift for which we're being praised?In her autobiography, St. Thérèse recalled a fable by La Fontaine. The fable told of a donkey who was carrying some relics of a saint in a procession. He looked at the people along the way who were bowed in reverence for the relics on the donkey's back. The donkey thought the people were showing reverence to him, and he became very proud. St. Thérèse said she would be like that donkey, if she ever took any credit for any good that appeared in her life. God forgive me! I know that at times I have been as stupid as that donkey. Have you?
Humiliation Can Help Us Grow
But now let's think about humility and humiliation. For most of us, being humiliated in some way is very painful: Who of us likes it? And yet, we have the word of St. Thérèse that humility can be fashioned only through experiencing humiliation. She insisted any kind of humiliation is essential to growing in humility.
She laid special emphasis on the necessity of the humiliation which comes from having our faults pointed out to us. We may be painfully conscious of some of our faults, but none of us knows all his or her faults. The virtue of humility grows through our graciously accepting the corrections of others. This is what St. Thomas called the "virtuous use of humiliations as a medicine." It is a sign of holiness readily to accept correction, graciously to accept others pointing out what we really are. In fact, the way in which we accept correction by others can be a measure of our sanctity.
St. Thérèse entered the Carmelite convent at Lisieux when she was only fifteen, and for years the prioress treated her very harshly. Yet years later, in her autobiography, written under the order of her prioress, St. Thérèse said quite sincerely, "I thank you, Mother, for not having spared me. Jesus knew that His Little Flower was too weak to take root without the life-giving waters of humiliation, and it is to you that she owes that inestimable blessing." Think about those words: "the life-giving waters of humiliation"!
This, again, is our point: the virtue of humility is living the truth about ourselves in our relationship with God. The truth is, we are totally dependent on God not only for life itself, but for any good which comes from us or to us.
The constant recognition of that fact is the true and only protection against the deadly sin of pride.
The constant recognition of that fact is the true and only source of deep Christian joy and confidence.
"I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me," declares St. Paul, "for when I am weak, [when I admit that I'm weak] then I am strong" (2Cor 12:9-10).
by Msgr. Charles Pope, Archdiocese of Washington
There is a great hymn, an antiphon actually, written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the Office of Corpus Christi. It is 'O Sacrum Convivium' (O Sacred banquet) and it serves as a wonderful summary of Eucharistic theology that is worth our attention. With that in mind I’d like to make a brief reflection on some of its compact teachings. First the text, then some commentary:
O Sacred banquet (O Sacrum convivium)
In recent decades there was perhaps a tendency to over emphasize the meal aspect of the holy Mass, without due and balanced reference to the sacrificial aspect of the holy Mass. But the necessary correction in more recent times, back toward emphasizing that the Mass makes present the Sacrifice of the Cross, should not lead us to forget the mass is also a holy banquet, a sacred meal with the Lord.
For the Lord says, For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink (Jn 6:55). Thus, the Holy Eucharist is no mere sign, or symbol, but is in fact the true food of Christ’s true Body, true Blood, Soul and Divinity. The Eucharist, is also a foretaste, a praegustatum, of the great banquet in heaven, of which Christ says, And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Lk 22:29-30). And yet again, Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me (Rev 3:20).
Note too that the Latin word convivium, of which "banquet" is an adequate translation, but also contains nuances that go beyond a mere meal. The Latin emphasizes a kind of coming together a sort of celebration of life. Con (with) + vivere (to live). Hence, the meal here is no mere supplying the food or calories. It is a coming together to celebrate new life. We receive the food of Christ’s Body and Blood, which not only gives an ingredient for life, but is in fact the true and very life of Christ.
In the Eucharist, we receive Life Himself, for Christ said of himself, I am the life (Jn 14:6). And further, he declares, As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will have life because of me. (Jn 6:57).
Of this life, he further describes it as "eternal life," a term which refers not merely to the length of life, but also to the fullness of life.
Thus the Holy Eucharist is a meal, but no mere meal, it is Life, it is a convivial celebration of that life; it is a banquet which gives Life Himself.
In which Christ is received (in quo Christus sumitur)
Here again, is affirmation that we do not receive mere food, we receive Christ himself. This is no mere symbol, no mere wafer, no mere memory. It is Christ himself that we receive.
The verb here, sumitur, is in some sense bold. More literally translated than "received," it is more literally translated as "taken up." It is a present passive indicative form of the verb. And this indicates the great humility of our Lord. He lets himself "be taken up."
Imagine, the Lord being in a moment of a passive relationship with us. He lets himself be taken up, or taken in by us. He is taken up, and becomes our food. Here is an astonishing humbling by our God, who then allows himself to be assimilated by us, and thereby assimilates us into him.
His humility, is meant to conquer pride in us. Yes, in this great banquet Christ himself is taken up, is received, is assimilated by us. And in this humble manner we are taken up into him, taken in, more perfectly to be a member of his body.
The memory of his passion is recalled (recolitur memoria passionis eius)
The Eucharist is not only a meal, it is the making present of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In every mass, we are brought to the foot of the cross, and the fruits of that Cross are applied to us.
We are also at the resurrection, for in Holy Communion we receive Christ who is living, present, and active.
The Latin verb recolitur, is properly translated "recalled." However, once again there are nuances in the Latin verb which are hard to render with one English word. The Latin verb recolere means "to cultivate anew." This somewhat agrarian image points to a kind of careful and intentional growing and fostering of something, in this case the memory of Christ’s Passion.
To cultivate in agriculture, is also to prepare for, and or pave the way for the growth of something. It means to prepare the soil.
In non agrarian settings, to cultivate anything implies a kind of care for it, and intention to foster the growth of something, to further or encourage something.
In all these images we see that the memory of Christ’s Passion is something that we should cherish, encourage and foster. It is something in which we should prepare the ground of our heart for ever deeper insights and for new growth in the memory of what He’s done for us
The other word, "memory," is also a very precious word. What is memory and what does it mean to "remember?" To remember is to have deeply present in my mind and my heart what Christ has done for me, so that I am grateful, and I am different. It means to have it finally dawn on us what Christ has done for us in such a vivid and real way that our hearts and minds are grateful, transformed, and different. Our hearts of stone are broken open and God’s light and love flood in and we are changed. This is what it means to remember.
It is of course and ever deepening process to recall the memory of His Passion, not a mere one time event.
The Mind is filled with Grace (mens impletur gratia)
There are many graces of course that come with holy Communion:
Our venial sins are forgiven, our holiness is increased, our union with Christ becomes more perfected, we gradually become the One we receive, we receive strength and food for the journey across the desert of this world unto the Promised Land of Heaven, we receive life, and begin to participate in eternal life, our union with Christ and membership in his body is strengthened, as is our union with one another, and our union with the saints in heaven.
Yes, so many grace are infused, are poured forth into the mind and heart!
And a pledge of future glory is given to us (et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur) - with the reception of Holy Communion come promises from Christ:
But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever….Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day….Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." (John 6:50-58)
Yes, here is a pledge of future glory, of victory. Jesus alludes to the manna in the wilderness that sustained them for forty years in the desert. It was a sign of the victory to come. For why would God sustain them in the desert if he did not will to lead them ultimately to the Promised Land? It is the same for us. That God feeds us in this way is a sign and promise of his will to save us and bring us to the Promised Land of Heaven. He blesses and strengthens the journey and so adds surety and the pledge of the destination of future glory.
To this pledge the Lord also adds a warning: I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you (Jn 6:53)
And St. Paul also adds: Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Cor 11:27-29)
Not a bad little summary of Eucharistic theology, all in a short antiphon.
by Fr. Daren J. Zehnle
This evening we have gathered in the Upper Room for the Cena Domini, the supper of the Lord. In a short while we will follow Jesus from this Upper Room to the Mount of Olives to watch and pray with him that we might not undergo the test (cf. Luke 22:46).
Before we set out on this pilgrimage we ought first consider the words exchanged between Peter and Jesus during the course of the meal.
The other disciples allowed Jesus to wash their feet without objection; Peter, on the other hand, objected. It seems likely that the rest of the Twelve were uncomfortable with Jesus washing their feet; he was, after all, their teacher and master and they his disciples (cf. John 13:13). Why, then, is Peter the only one to object?
It might be said that Peter often objected to Jesus, not to be argumentative but because of the love he bore his master. When first the Lord approached Peter on the shores of the Lake of Gennesaret, the fisherman said to him, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man" (Luke 5:8). Even at that first encounter Peter knew he was not worthy of friendship with Jesus, yet Jesus desired his friendship nonetheless, saying to him in response, "Do not be afraid" (Luke 5:10).
From that moment on, it seems Peter took the Lord at his word, rarely shying away from telling Jesus what he really thought. As one key example, we need only look to the time when Jesus first predicted his Passion to the Twelve. It was Peter - and not the others - who took him aside and objected: "God forbid, Lord," he said! "No such thing shall ever happen to you" (Matthew 16:22).
And now, as Jesus kneels before him, Peter objects to the Lord's act of humble love, asking, "Master, are you going to wash my feet?" (John 13:6)
Even when Jesus tells him he will understand what he is doing in time, Peter remains adamant: "You will never wash my feet" (John 13:8).
Peter refused not because of his pride but because of the reverence he held for the Lord Jesus; his objections were meant to honor Jesus. Even if he did not fully understand, Peter recognized the truth of Jesus' identity. Of all of the Twelve, it was Peter who answered the question Jesus addressed to them: "But who do you say that I am" (Matthew 16:15)? It was Simon Peter who answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16).
Looking at Jesus kneeling before him, I suspect, Peter wanted to repeat those first words he spoke to Jesus: "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." Peter knew his own unworthiness and, what is more, the thought must surely have occurred to him that he had never offered to wash Jesus' feet. He objected because Jesus was doing what he should instead be doing; it was his love for and devotion to Jesus that lead him to say, "You will never wash my feet."
Recognizing Peter's love, Jesus calmly responds, "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me" (John 13:8). Hearing these words, Peter relents and says, "Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well" (John 13:9). Above all else, Peter desired friendship with Jesus and if it meant he had to let the Lord humble himself to keep his friendship, he would do so.
Will we follow Peter's example and allow the Lord to humble himself and wash our feet? Or are we afraid to reveal ourselves to him?
Tonight Peter shows us the path we, too, must follow by withholding nothing from the Lord. We, too, should desire the Lord's friendship above all else, for Jesus desires our friendship just as he desired Peter's. To us, as well, he says, "Do not be afraid. Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."
The Lord Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles to raise them up so that they would have a seat at his table; now they, in turn, must do the same to others, receiving from Jesus his very own ministry (cf. John 13:15). By washing their feet, Jesus prepared them for this sharing in his ministry by making their feet beautiful and worthy to carry the tidings of his victory over sin and death to all people through their preaching and through the Sacraments (cf. Isaiah 52:7).
Even now, the Lord wants to wash our feet, through the ministry of those who have a share in his ministry and who act in his name. He desires to make us clean, to give us a share in his inheritance of everlasting life, through the Sacrament of Penance that we might worthily partake of his Body and Blood.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray that our desire for the Lord's friendship might be as strong as Peter's. Let us pray that our desire for him will be so strong that we will allow the Lord to humble himself to wash our feet. Let us pray that we will desire his love and friendship above all else. Amen.
by Oswald Chambers
Ministering in Everyday Opportunities.
Ministering in everyday opportunities that surround us does not mean that we select our own surroundings - it means being God's very special choice to be available for use in any of the seemingly random surroundings which He has engineered for us. The very character we exhibit in our present surroundings is an indication of what we will be like in other surroundings.
The things Jesus did were the most menial of everyday tasks, and this is an indication that it takes all of God's power in me to accomplish even the most common tasks in His way. Can I use a towel as He did? Towels, dishes, sandals, and all the other ordinary things in our lives reveal what we are made of more quickly than anything else. It takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the most menial duty as it ought to be done.
Jesus said, "I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you" (John 13:15). Notice the kind of people that God brings around you, and you will be humiliated once you realize that this is actually His way of revealing to you the kind of person you have been to Him. Now He says we should exhibit to those around us exactly what He has exhibited to us.
Do you find yourself responding by saying, "Oh, I will do all that once I'm out on the mission field"? Talking in this way is like trying to produce the weapons of war while in the trenches of the battlefield–you will be killed while trying to do it.
We have to go the "second mile" with God (see Matthew 5:41). Yet some of us become worn out in the first ten steps. Then we say, "Well, I'll just wait until I get closer to the next big crisis in my life." But if we do not steadily minister in everyday opportunities, we will do nothing when the crisis comes.
Source: My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
by Msgr Charles Pope
On Holy Thursday, let's examine the sequence of the Last Supper which pretty well illustrates why the Lord had to die for us. We will see how earnest the Lord is about this Last Supper, how he enters it with an intense love for his disciples and a desire that they (we) carefully heed what he is trying to teach them. We shall see however that the disciples (we) show forth a disastrous inattentiveness and a terrible lack of concern for the Lord.
Here then are the movements of the Last Supper. Watch how things begin with the loving and careful attentiveness of the Lord and end with a selfish, inept and unloving response from the apostles (us?) Here is the sequence.
1. COMING CLOUDS
Jesus knows that his hour has come. This meal will be his last meal. Judas has already conspired and been paid to hand him over. Scripture says Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come. He always loved those who were his own, and now he would show them the depths of his love. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. (John 13:1) Hence in the gathering storm Jesus considers his last meal which will also be the first Holy Mass. He instructs his Apostles to prepare the meal: He sent two of his disciples, and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, 'The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the Passover with my disciples?' And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us." (Mark 14:13-15)
2. CARING CONCERN
This last supper was obviously important to Jesus. Luke records the heartfelt words of Jesus: And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." (Luke 22:15-16). Yes this was to be a very special moment for Jesus.
3. COSTLY COMMUNION
Jesus, reclining at the table, will now celebrate the Holy Eucharist for the first time. But this was a costly communion. He had already lost many disciples for what he taught on the Eucharist (cf John 6:50ff). It was a costly teaching. Further, after the first consecration, as he looks into the cup he is looking at his own blood soon to be shed, and he distributes his own body soon to be handed over. Yes this is a costly communion, no mere ritual for him. Every other priest before him had offered a sacrifice distinct from himself, (usually an animal, sometimes a libation). But Jesus the great High Priest will offer himself. It is a costly communion.
4. COLLABORATIVE CONDESCENSION
During the meal Jesus rises and then stoops to wash the disciples feet. He instructs them to see in this a model for those who would collaborate with him in any future ministry. John records it this way: He rose from the supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded (John 13:5). Jesus then teaches the Disciples: Do you know what I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. (John 13:12-15). We shall see that, in moments, they will demonstrate a complete disregard for what he has just tried to teach them. Now things get bad.
5. CALLOUS CRIME
Back at table and after having taught them that they must wash one another's feet Jesus becomes suddenly troubled in spirit and says, I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me. (John 13:21). This causes a commotion among the Apostles who begin to ask "Who can it be?" As the anxiety and commotion around the table continue, Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means." Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. "What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him (John 13:24-30).
6. CONFOUNDING COMPETITION
But as Judas takes the morsel of bread and heads into the night, no one tries to stop him! No one rises and block the door or even utters a protest despite the fact that Jesus has clearly identified him! Why?! Luke supplies the answer: A dispute arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. (Luke 22:24) They should be concerned about Jesus' welfare but instead they debate about who of them is the greatest. How confounding and awful! Yet is that not our history? Too often we are far more concerned with our status and welfare than with any suffering in the Body of Christ. So much that is critical is unattended to because we are concerned with our status, position, comfort and welfare. Jesus had just taught them wash each others feet but in an inept response they end up arguing as to who was greatest. Jesus patiently reminds them and teaches: The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves. (Luke 22:25-27) Meanwhile, due their (our) egotistical ineptitude Judas has escaped far into the night.
7. CAUSTIC CONTENTIOUSNESS
Jesus continues to teach at the Last Supper. This moment he surely wanted to impress upon them his final instruction. How he must have longed for them to listen carefully and deeply internalize what he was teaching. Instead all he gets are arguments. Both Thomas and Phillip rebuke him. John records the outrage: Jesus said Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." But Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him. So Thomas rhetorically rebuked the Lord, in effect saying, "We have NO IDEA where you are going, when will you show us the way!" Jesus answers but Phillip will have none of this promise to see the Father and he boldly says, Lord, show us the Father, and then we shall be satisfied." Jesus, likely saddened at all this said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? (John 14:1-9). Hence his own apostles are being argumentative and contentious. They are caustic and seem also to rebuke the Lord. The Supper isn't going so well!
8. COMIC CREDIBILITY GAP
Undeterred Jesus embarks on a lengthy discourse that John records and which has come to be called the priestly prayer of Jesus. At the end of it the apostles remark, perhaps ironically, perhaps with sincerity: His disciples said, "Ah, now at last you are speaking plainly, not in any figure! Now we know that you know all things, and need none to question you; by this we believe that you came from God."(John 16:29-30). But Jesus knows their praise is hollow and will not stand the test. There is a great credibility gap to what they say, it is almost comical. So he says: Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone (John 16:31-32). Peter undeterred says, Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away." Here too is another almost comic credibility gap and thus Jesus said to him, "Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." Still insistent Peter said to him, "Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you." And so said all the disciples. (John 16:33-35). Well you know the story and that only John made it to the cross. Their credibility was, by this time a dark comedy.
9. COMPASSIONATE CONSTANCY
But you also know the rest of the story. Jesus went on and died for the likes of them (us). I wonder if he had some of this Last Supper in mind when he said to the Father, "Forgive them, they know not what they do." Almost as if to say, "They have absolutely no idea what they are doing or thinking, so have mercy on them Father."
What a grim picture of us the Last Supper was. A disaster really. But the glory of the story and the saving grace is this, the Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross anyway. Seeing this terrible portrait of them (us) can we really doubt the Lord's love for us?
May your Holy Thursday be blessed. Never forget what Jesus endured!
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