- Holy Thursday: Washing Away our Daily Sins (John 13:1-15)
22 Apr 2011
Holy Week - Reflection - Holy Thursday
“I give unto you a new command, love one another as I have loved you”
Bread broken, wine share, companionship and fellowship around a table. Something simple yet so profound. An event so human, so familiar; a common experience across the miles, across the centuries, across cultures and borders and divisions of language, tribe and sexual orientation, all man-made divisions.
But for us it becomes a mysterious sharing, understood and theologised to try and grasp what it does actually mean while remaining a mystery seen in the light of the empty tomb on Resurrection morn. A sacrifice offered once and for all across cosmic time. At the same time a gathering of the faithful around the alter of the Lord where we gather as Church to once more re-member – put back together – the body of Christ – people, priest and Sacrament of Wonder and Sacrament of the Word.
We part take of Panis angelicus – heavenly bread, not the manna fed to the Israelites in the desert for forty years as they wandered, growing in relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but the divine nourishment for ourselves to assist and nourish the divine which is in each of us as Temples of the Holy Spirit, made in the image and likeness of God.
“Love one another” - a command given, a reason to believe, to remember that from the pain and blood and anguish of the events to follow, the thing to be remembered “love one another as I have loved you”. As St Therese of Lisieux noted, John has a different focus on the great commandment of Christ. It is not enough to love our neighbour as ourselves; no we must love our neighbour as Christ has loved them, loved to the utmost and beyond.
Today we begin our celebration of the Easter Triduum, the high point of the Christian liturgical year where we recall in vivid detail the Holy Week. Once more, we gather in the Upper Room, we watch symbolically in persona Christi, bread broken, body broken, bread shared as part take of the ultimate Passover of the Lord. We watch as the traitors hand is dipped in the dish and after as that traitor betrays him by denying him three times. We watch as another – a fool? A patsy? A traitor? An instrument of God? - dips his hand in the dish and then goes to begin it all – sent by command of the Master – “go do what must be done” – to be a catalyst to set in motion the great events that must unfold to fulfil the law and the prophets.
Physicality sanctified by the Incarnation faces its ultimate sanctification – sanctified; set aside for the Lord by the Divine Blood poured forth by scourging, by thorns, and ultimately on the Cross. Yet that is ahead, let us not pre-empt what is to occur. Let us return to the Upper Room.....
.....To a strange sight. The Teacher is still teaching, imparting his gift to those who will be unworthy vessels but are still chosen by the Lord. He breaks taboos and expectations reminding them that they are to of service to each other. We remember tonight as the institution of the sacerdotal priesthood who serves the cultic function of offering a sacrifice to the Father. But it is also the institution of the diaconate – the order of service. But that of course is not all. Service unto one another is the key to being a follower of He who is the Lamb of God.
Let us pray with him in Gethsemane..............................
A couple of other links to reflections for Holy Thursday: