Celebrating Christ In The Holy Eucharist
Readings: 1st: Ex 12, 1-8; Ps 115; 2nd: 1 Cor 11, 23-26: Gos: Jn 13, 1-15)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Holy Thursday commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood. It is a day of rededicating ourselves to Christ’s mission, through total donation of oneself, and the willingness to serve others.
Today the Church celebrates the wonderful gift of God to her and the entire world – the institution of the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is the food that God has generously made available to nourish us on our spiritual journey. According to Pope Francis, “The Eucharist is not just a weekly way of celebrating our faith, but radically affects our relationship with others. Especially, with those most in need.”
The Eucharist gives us the grace to feel forgiven and be ready to forgive others. We go to Mass, not because we are worthy or want to appear better than others. Rather, it is because we know that we are always in need of God’s mercy, love and grace. These come to us through the body and blood of Christ. The Eucharist affects the life of our Christian communities. So, the church receives her mission and identity from the Eucharist.
The institution of the Holy Eucharist by Christ on Holy Thursday equally marks the institution of the ministerial priesthood. So, the priesthood is also God’s gift to his church. This means that, it is God who freely calls. The mystical nature of the priesthood derives first, from the lives of Melchizedek and, second from Christ.
This mystical nature reaches its fullness at the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, and at every Mass. That is, the consecration of bread and wine, which is transformed into the real body and blood of Christ. Therefore, the priest is the defender of the truth. He stands with the angels to give glory to God. He causes sacrifices to rise to God. He shares in Christ’s priesthood, refashions creation, and restores it in God’s image.
Finally, at the base of all these is the humility of Christ. In today’s Gospel, Christ chose to wash the feet of his disciples, instead of them washing his. The feet are the humblest part of our body. They endure the weight of the body. They gather the dust of our journey. Hence, to wash and kiss the feet is a gesture of great humility and love that any person can realize.
Christ also fed his disciples. Today’s celebration reminds us that Christ first offered himself in the Eucharist, before offering himself on the cross. So, the mystery of Holy Thursday is summarized in the final and total donation of God to humanity.
On this day, the Eucharist, the priesthood, the commandment of love (made palpable in the washing of the feet), and the Mass (the eternal memory of self-donation), sprouted from the heart of Christ.
There is a very important lesson for us in all of these. It is this, that the joy of working in the vineyard of the Lord comes mostly from self-donation and serving others. However, this is possible only through a humble heart prepared for service. So, instead of struggling to be served all the time, let us emulate Christ by aspiring to serve others.
Peace be with you all!