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 Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 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 a total donation of oneself and the willingness to serve others.
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Today, the Church celebrates God’s beautiful gift 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. Instead, 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 ministerial priesthood’s institution. So, the priesthood is also God’s gift to his Church. This means that it is God who freely calls. The priesthood’s mystical nature derives from, first, the lives of Melchizedek and, second from Christ.
This mystical nature reaches its fullness at the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and every Mass. That is the consecration of bread and wine, which transforms into Christ’s real body and blood. 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 his disciples’ feet, instead of them washing his. The feet are the humblest part of our body. They endure the weight of the body and 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 final and total donation of God to humanity summarizes the mystery of Holy Thursday.
Today, 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 vital lesson for us in all of these. 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!