HOLY THURSDAY HOMILY
I have spoken to you earlier about the manna and the paschal lamb and the blood. Reread these homilies as they all come together in today’s liturgy.
What strikes me in today’s Gospel reading is the reason for Jesus’ washing the disciple’s feet. It was customary and expected by the law that each participant in the Passover meal wash their hands. Ritual cleansing was and still is symbolic of our physical and spiritual preparation for the Lord.
If you notice the priest washes his hands before offering the gifts on the altar saying, ‘Wash away my iniquity, cleanse me of all my sin.’ We take this gesture from Jesus and apply it to our Eucharist. The priest prays this prayer for himself and for each of the participants in the Mass.
Everything about that holy night with Jesus and the Apostles at the Last Supper comes from the Passover event with Moses. Jesus is the Passover Lamb. He is the Manna, and His is the Blood that is offered up for us. His is the Blood that falls on the Wood of the Cross and upon the earth to cleanse us of our sins. His is the Blood that is smeared on the doorposts of our hearts so that the angel of death does not destroy us. And His is the Blood that we drink that unites us body mind and soul to His Divine Person.
Jesus longs to celebrate this event with us then and now. He longs to give His life for us so that we can be with Him eternally. Jesus longs to strengthen us with the gift of Himself so that we can endure the Passion to come. Jesus says to His disciples after Peter’s refusal to let Jesus wash him, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me’.
Jesus’ washing the disciple’s feet was really a baptismal forgiveness to prepare the disciple’s hearts to be pure to receive the Divine gift of Jesus’ body and blood. Remember Jesus notes that not all of the disciples are clean. We too need the grace of confession to prepare ourselves to share in this Holy Meal and every time we celebrate Mass.
If we remember Jesus warns us not to offer our gifts until we have forgiven our brother and sister. We are not just making an offering to God we are consuming the very offering given back to us in the Person of Jesus in His Body and Blood.
Let us enter this celebration with truly contrite hearts. Let us accompany Jesus as true friends never leaving him through these next few days. Let us await Him with loving hearts, for the day of His Resurrection.