3.29.18 Holy Thursday Triduum – B
1st Reading Exodus 12: 1 – 8, 11 – 14
Corinthians 11: 23 – 26
Gospel of John 13: 1- 15 – 32
Please refer to your own Bible for the Scripture readings
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy Eucharist: Past, Present and Future
Have you ever thought about time travel? Returning to a point of time in the past. This idea has been the topic of books, movies and television programs. But long before there was a printing press, long before there were motion pictures, television or our tablets, the reality of time travel existed. Christians celebrating Eucharist were touching the past in the most profound way.
Two thousand years ago, †Jesus gathered with His apostles to celebrate the ancient Passover. Pieces of unleavened bread were passed around to the twelve Apostles around that table. And as He did so, †Jesus said to them: “This is my Body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me”. (1 Cor.11:24f) At Passover, there are four cups of wine that are shared, and when †Jesus shared the third cup, He declared: “This cup is the New Covenant in my Blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me”. (ibid) Twice †Jesus said the word: “remembrance’. In Greek, which is the original language in which the New Testament was written, it is translated anamnesis. That word, specifically used by †Jesus, meant: to make present again.
Each time we celebrate Eucharist, we travel back to that moment as †Jesus was physically present to His Apostles in the upper room, present in body and soul and divinity. †Jesus is present with us tonight. It is the same †Jesus, and He is truly present. At this Eucharist, we are passing through time, past, present, and future. †Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father, is here present! In this Eucharist, we are entering eternity because †Jesus is already there. And if †Jesus is present in the Eucharist, we are present with Him as He sits at the right hand of the Father in eternity.
We cannot think of this as chronological time – where past leads to present, present leads to future. Rather, we are entering God’s time, which is described as kairos. For God, all time happens in an instant. Recall these words from the 2nd Letter of Peter: “Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years. And a thousand years are like one day”. (2 Peter 3:8) In this Church tonight, our little Church here in Coronado, California, we are present with †Jesus and His Apostles in the upper room and we are also present with †Jesus at the right hand of the Father, surrounded by the heavenly hosts. At every Eucharist, we are close to our deceased loved ones. Mothers are close to their unborn children, who entered heaven through miscarriage or abortion; such an incredible gift of love that we have received from the Lord.
St Teresa of Lisieux who is a Doctor of the Church, wrote, that since the faithful departed are united with Christ; wherever Christ is, they are present. Since the faithful departed are already united with Christ, wherever Christ is – they are present. She writes: †Jesus is present in the Eucharist and so our loved ones are present through †Jesus. “Through Him, with Him, in Him, O God Almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, now and forever”. Those words have meaning! It means that all of the faithful are united with God in Christ †Jesus. We here, and our loved ones who have gone before us, who are already sitting with the Father at the heavenly banquet.
In the Letter to the Hebrews the author writes: “We are surrounded by this cloud of witnesses”. Eternity is already present in this Church tonight; it is just not fully complete, but it is present – here in our midst. And we are in the presence of God and among that cloud of heavenly witnesses all around us – past, present, future.
“Do this in remembrance of Me”. (1 Cor. 11:24f) †Jesus not only meant: “Do this over again and remember me”, – but also: “Be there with Me”. Be where? Be with †Jesus at the right hand of the Father, because He is there to intercede for us; to pray for us. We are also with †Jesus in ancient Jerusalem tonight because the mass is a sacrifice of †Jesus on Calvary, but in an unbloody manner; †Jesus who gave His life for us on the cross. We remember that event on this altar tonight.
As we approach Communion, we approach †Jesus on the cross. Along with His Blessed Mother, and the beloved disciple, we stand at the foot of the cross and we pray. We pray as they did two thousand years ago. We pray, not to the physical †Jesus on the cross (for †Jesus is risen – we have already celebrated that two thousand years ago), but we pray for †Jesus in His mystical body; for all the people for whom He gave His life’ we are praying to †Jesus for them, tonight.
During the Parish Mission, Fr. Jude reminded us that when placed in our hands at communion time, †Jesus says: “I need you to be there for Me”. When you receive †Jesus in Communion, He is saying: “I need you to be there for Me”. We need to be with †Jesus who is present in others, those around us. Mother Teresa could see the sick and dying – and in the sick and dying she said, she “saw †Jesus in His most distressing disguise”. “Apply Mother Teresa’s words. It could be that (tonight) you will be called from this mass to touch dying souls with God’s love.” (Fr. Tadeusz Dajezer (+2009): Mysteries of the Faith: Meditations on the Eucharist; Paraclete Press, 2009; Brewster, MA) In this Eucharist †Jesus opens His heart in a gesture of unconditional love for all time, and that gesture of love continues in us. And tonight, that gesture of love is symbolized by the washing of feet. This is the horizontal dimension of the Eucharist – †Jesus giving Himself for us; and we, giving our self for others; serving others.
During these holy days of the Sacred Triduum, we are reminded that †Jesus accomplished our salvation. Not through power and might, but He accomplished our salvation through humiliation. As His hour of humiliation approached, †Jesus revealed to His disciples – a humility, which was a sign of His love for them – His love for us. †Jesus stooped down to perform a task reserved for servants. He washed their dirty feet and they were dirty! He washed even the dirty feet of one who would betray Him. He washed the dirty feet of one would deny Him. You see, †Jesus faced the hurt of betrayal and disloyalty with an act of humility and genuine love. How do we face betrayal and how do we face disloyalty? With the same kind of humility and love as †Jesus did?
Afterward – †Jesus said: “If I therefore – master and teacher – have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow”. (John 13:15) We prove our love for †Jesus not only through the Eucharist, but also through our loving actions – being with Him – present in the lives of those who are suffering; suffering on their crosses – humbling ourselves in service to one another and to those most in need in the world.
The question we ask our self is: “Can I be humble enough?” Tonight, many of us will sit in adoration in the Parish Hall and we will remember †Jesus and His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. There – we will have the opportunity at the Altar of Repose to remain with †Jesus. Since all time is ONE with God, †Jesus will sit in the Garden tonight. On this night – Holy Thursday 2018 – †Jesus will be sitting in the Garden again. He won’t be asking for the cup of suffering to pass Him by – but He will be praying for you and He will be praying for me. He will be praying that despite the crosses we face – despite the crosses we fail to carry at times – we will be courageous and faithful. †Jesus prays that we will have enough love to humble ourselves in genuine love and service to others.
So tonight on this altar – in the church – all time is ONE – past – present – and future. We are with †Jesus tonight in the upper room. We are with †Jesus in glory with the Father in eternity. Let us give the Lord the gift of ourselves – now – and in eternity, surrounded by the cloud of witnesses – our loved ones who are united with the Lord.
“Can you hold back from racing after this God – who has let you hold in your palm – for so long – His Son? Letting you be close to Him…like His Blessed Mother…Only in deep faith is it possible to see God on the altar. Before the glory of eternity – here and now – there is power and infinite majesty.”
(Fr. Tadeusz Dajezer (+2009): Mysteries of the Faith: Meditations on the Eucharist; Paraclete Press, 2009; Brewster, MA.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.