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HOLY THURSDAY: Jesus’ Last Supper

Posted by FactReal on April 21, 2011

Commemorating the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus
Holy Week (or Semana Santa in Spanish) is the period between Palm Sunday and the great festival of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. After Palm Sunday, the next important day of Holy Week is Holy Thursday when the commemoration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus starts.

The Last Supper by Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret The Last Supper (1800s)

THE FIRST PASSOVER
Meaning:
“Tonight begins the most important liturgy of the year, the Paschal Triduum, which in truth lasts for three days: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and finally the Easter Vigil on the evening of Holy Saturday. We depart in silence tonight, return and leave in sorrowful silence tomorrow and gather in silence once more – though with great expectation – as the sun departs on Saturday. The Passover of our Lord is here.

So our first reading tonight recalls God’s commands to Moses before the Israelites observed their first Passover, the one done literally on the verge of flight from their slavery in Egypt… So, following God’s command, the Chosen People shared a perfectly unblemished lamb…

And, taking the blood of the lamb, they painted their doorposts with it. The “angel of death” would see this sacrifice and “pass over” them; as for the Egyptians, who would lack this sign, they would see once and for all (since nine previous plagues had failed to convince them) that their gods were powerless before “I AM.”  (…) [W]e come again to the table tonight to celebrate our liberation from slavery, for the re-presentation of the greatest Passover of all. Jesus, the innocent, unblemished Lamb of God, our Passover, is sacrificed for us to take away the sin of the world.”

Reading 1: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
“This month shall stand at the head of your calendar;
you shall reckon it the first month of the year.
Tell the whole community of Israel:
On the tenth of this month every one of your families
must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household.
If a family is too small for a whole lamb,
it shall join the nearest household in procuring one
and shall share in the lamb
in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.
The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish.
You may take it from either the sheep or the goats.
You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month,
and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present,
it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.
They shall take some of its blood
and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel
of every house in which they partake of the lamb.
That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh
with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

“This is how you are to eat it:
with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand,
you shall eat like those who are in flight.
It is the Passover of the LORD.
For on this same night I will go through Egypt,
striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast,
and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!
But the blood will mark the houses where you are.
Seeing the blood, I will pass over you;
thus, when I strike the land of Egypt,
no destructive blow will come upon you.

“This day shall be a memorial feast for you,
which all your generations shall celebrate
with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”

CELEBRATING THE EUCHARIST
Meaning

“[T]he words Paul prescribes for his mission Church at Corinth are one of the earliest records we have of how the first Christians celebrated the Eucharist. (…)  The four New Testament renderings of the Words of Institution differ slightly from each other, but not in any essentials. All four use the same Greek words to make crystal-clear that the consecrated bread and wine ARE Jesus’ body and blood. Just as the Old Covenant was ratified by the blood of animal sacrifices, so the New Covenant is ratified with Jesus’ once-for-all Sacrifice on Calvary. Christ does not “die again” on the altar. The priest “re-presents” that very same single sacrifice every time we celebrate Mass.”

Reading 2: 1 Cor 11:23-26

Brothers and Sisters,

I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

HUMILITY
Meaning:

“The Eucharist was not the only sacrament founded on that first Holy Thursday. The Church also traces Christ’s founding of the priesthood to this evening, through His command to celebrate the Eucharist “in remembrance of Me.” (…)  Jesus corrects him [Peter]: Let Me serve you. You cannot be My disciple otherwise. Why? Because you must be all about emptying yourself and serving others – all the time – as you spread My Good News to all nations.

And this call goes out to all Christians, not merely priests, bishops and Peter’s successor as pope, “the servant of the servants of God.” Sin, in every expression, is self-centeredness at the expense of others. We must think and speak and act with the same humility, the same emptying of self, that Christ modeled throughout His earthly ministry and all the way to the cross.

We cannot do this on our own, but Christ Himself makes it possible through His Word and sacraments and most especially as we humbly receive His body, blood, soul and divinity. He not only humbled Himself to wash our feet; in the eating and drinking, the Bridegroom literally enters each of us and makes us one in His Mystical Body, the Church, His Bride.

So we celebrate tonight – knowing the sorrow, but also the joy, still to come.”

Gospel: Jn 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from 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 dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
 for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

MORE
The betrayal
The Passion of Jesus Christ
Easter
Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Holy Thursday
Lent and Easter 2011 Calendar

One Response to “HOLY THURSDAY: Jesus’ Last Supper”

  1. C.W.Crosby said

    What can anyone say to this other than God is love and his son Jesus Christ is his gift to humanity . Amen.

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