Father Nathan Homily |
Holy Thursday | April 1, 2021
Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
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.”
— John 13:1-5
Holy Thursday Homily
We celebrate three anniversaries on Holy Thursday:
1) the anniversary of the first Holy Mass,
2) the anniversary of the institution of ministerial priesthood in order to perpetuate the Holy Mass, to convey God’s forgiveness to repentant sinners, and to preach the Good News of salvation,
3) the anniversary of Jesus’ promulgation of his new commandment of love:
“Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).
The Sacrament of the Eucharist
The Eucharist is the sacrament of God’s love for us. This love is not meant to remain in the confines of the Upper Room; it is meant to be shared.
That is why at the Last Supper, Jesus gave a deeper meaning to the Eucharist when he rose from the table and washed the feet of his apostles – his second act of love that evening.
He removed his outer garment and bent down to wash the feet of his disciples. And he instructed them:
“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” (Jn 13:14-15).
The love we receive in the Eucharist should move and inspire us to render humble service to one another.
One of the reasons that our Lord, Jesus Christ, instituted the Holy Eucharist was because He desired to unite all men with Himself and to nourish the souls of everyone with His Divine life.
It is by the Eucharist that men are able to join together with God’s aim of making our lives meet the divine by augmenting our humanity.
Christ gives us His own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist:
first, to be offered as a sacrifice commemorating and renewing for all time the sacrifice of the cross;
second, to be received by the faithful in Holy Communion;
third, to remain ever on our altars as the proof of His love for us, and to be worshipped by us.
(1)To unite us to Himself and to nourish our souls with His divine life.
(2) To increase sanctifying grace and all the virtues in our souls.
(3) To lessen our evil inclinations.
(4) To be a pledge of everlasting life.
(5) To fit our bodies for a glorious resurrection.
(6) To continue the sacrifice of the Cross in His Church.
Institution of the Priesthood
The ultimate reason Christ instituted His priesthood was to make men, other Christ’s, (alter Christus) so as to continue his work of redemption by giving them the power to participate in His own priesthood so that may continue to be His voice in this world.
That is why Christ makes it clear to His apostles
“He that hears you hears me: and he that despises you despises me” (John 10:16).
These words in fact lose their meaning unless there is a Church or a Priesthood. Christ doesn’t say, he who despises the bible, but “he who despises you”, to indicate that they will be His very own living witnesses in and amongst an unbelieving world.
Bishop Fulton Sheen’s Inspiration
A few months before he died in 1979, Bishop Fulton Sheen was interviewed on television. A reporter asked: “Your Excellency, you inspired millions all over the world. Who inspired you?” Surprisingly, it was not the Pope, nor any other bishop or priest. He said it was an eleven-year-old Chinese girl. When the Communists took over China in the late forties, they imprisoned a priest in his own rectory. Looking through the window, he was horrified to see the soldiers enter the church and break open the tabernacle, scattering the Blessed Sacrament on the floor. The priest knew the exact number of the sacred hosts: thirty-two.
But a young girl had been praying in the back of the church and she hid when the soldiers came in. That night the girl returned and spent an hour in prayer – an act of love and reparation for that act of hatred and sacrilege. She then entered the sanctuary, knelt and bent over to receive Jesus in Holy Communion by picking up a sacred host with her tongue. This was what she did every night: she spends an hour in prayer and receives the Eucharist with her tongue. On the thirty-second night, after consuming the last host, she accidentally made a slight noise, enough to awaken a soldier. She ran but the soldier caught her, and hit her with his rifle butt. The priest heard the commotion, but it was too late. From the window of the rectory, he saw the girl die.
Bishop Sheen said that this story inspired him so much that he promised he would spend at least one hour each day before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. That daily holy hour was what inspired him and gave him the power all through the years in his life as a priest.
The Sacrament of the Priesthood
On Holy Thursday, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Priesthood when he instructed his apostles:
“Do this in memory of me.”
This is his third act of love that evening. It is through the priests, human instruments appointed by God, that we receive the abundance of God’s love in the sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist.
The priesthood and the Eucharist are intimately and essentially united. The Eucharist is continually offered by the ministry of the priesthood, and the priesthood gets its power and inspiration from the Eucharist. One cannot do without the other. It’s all about love. It’s love alone with the great virtue of humility.
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Past Messages from Father Nathan
At the Easter Vigil, the Exsultet is sung as Mass begins in darkness, illumined only by candles throughout the church. The Exsultet is a beautiful hymn of rejoicing in Christ’s triumph of sin and death.
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