Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday

Archbishop Bernard read the homily before washing the feet of seminarians and congregants this Holy Thursday.

In his homily the Archbishop said:

Tonight the penitential season of Lent concludes as we begin the three solemn days of the Easter Triduum.  As we celebrate the liturgy we follow closely, through the scriptures and in our ceremonies, the events of the final twenty-four hours of our Lord’s earthly life. 

We stand beside him in the outpouring of his love through the gift of the Eucharist and in his prayerful suffering in Gethsemane. 

Tomorrow we recall the sacrifice of his life on the Cross, and at the Vigil on Saturday we witness to him as he shares the new life of the Resurrection with us through our baptism. 

In our liturgical remembering we are not simply calling to mind as we might remember other historical events or experiences. 

Through the power of the Holy Spirit these actions of Christ become present to us in the actions of the Church and so we are changed.

Tonight we enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s love as we recall the Lord’s washing of the apostles’ feet when they take their last meal together.  We solemnly recall and cherish our Lord’s gift of himself to us in the Eucharist.

At the heart of these events lies the priestly ministry of Jesus himself – the priesthood in which we share through our baptism or through our ordination. 

St John’s Gospel offers us a wonderful insight as we follow the conversation between our Lord and St Peter.  At first Peter protests that he will not accept the Lord’s menial gesture of humble service in washing the disciples’ feet.  It is an act that confronts and contradicts his understanding of who is the master and who is the servant.

But this gesture demonstrates the radical nature of service.  There is nothing that our Lord will not do to serve us out of love – and this is followed by his invitation:  I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.  His love goes beyond washing feet – it involves giving everything, even life itself on the cross, out of love for us.

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