Tuesday, April 07, 2009

"The vast tunnels of a gold mine"

As we prepare to enter into the Easter Triduum, the following is a deep and rich meditation for Holy Thursday (cf. Lk 22:14-20) from “The King, Crucified and Risen” by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.:

“The Sacred Triduum – the three holy days (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) – opens with joy and sorrow, love and betrayal, life and death, the promise of eternity and a feeling of impending death at the Last Supper. This is the great day of paradox – that is, apparent contradictions mysteriously containing truth. For example, we call this Passover meal the Last Supper. But these simple events are the beginning of billions of commemorations in Eucharistic liturgies. Could anyone there have imagined Bach’s Mass in B minor, or a Mass performed by native Africans singing an accompaniment to the renewal of the Last Supper?

It’s a very sorrowful meal. Christ promises the Eucharist, which has been the greatest single source of spiritual joy and consolation that the Christian world has ever known. Christ leaves the supper to be arrested; within eighteen terrible hours He will be tortured to death, and yet He tells us that He will be with us till the end of the world. The most significant sign of His presence is the bread and wine consecrated and transformed at the re-presentation of this holy meal.

During the past several days we have been meditating on some of His discourse to the apostles in John’s Gospel. If you have been reading along, you realize that these pages, including John chapters 5 and 6 and chapters 13-17 (called the Book of Glory), contain the most profound revelation of who Jesus Christ is and what He can be to those who seek to love Him.

Try to take some time during the Holy Triduum to read and meditate on these events. Although they happened so long ago, they are repeated over and over till the end of the world.

Any thinking Christian knows that Christ is betrayed, abandoned, humiliated, and suffers hunger and thirst constantly in his members. ‘I was hungry and you gave me no food’ (Mt 25:42). He is constantly on trial somewhere in the world, and He is left alone in our own neighborhoods in the sick and the dying.

The events of Holy Thursday are almost all incomplete realities. They look forward to what is to come for their completion. The very next day the Blood of the Eucharist must be shed and the Body must be broken. But even then, what do we see but the corpse of an atrociously abused man, like the image seen on the Shroud of Turin? We must keep going so that the Eucharist is not a funeral procession and the life of Christ is not just another noble failure. He lives! On the third day He comes back to life, never to die again. ‘I am with you always, to the close of the age’ (Mt 28:20).

There is so much in the Last Supper, and then there is the agony in the garden and the arrest of Jesus. Start anywhere prayerfully and thoughtfully, and you will walk into the vast tunnels of a gold mine. The events of these days can teach us every year and, in fact, every day of every year, because they come back to us not only in our memories but also in the sacramental reality of the daily Eucharist.

Is there one word that can sum up Christ’s deeds and our response as disciples? Obviously the word is love. It begins the account of the Last Supper in John 13:1: ‘Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.’

The Gospel is above all a story of love, and love should be our response. St. Paul, who was called after all these things came to pass, summed it up so well in words that should guide our minds and hearts: ‘The charity of Christ urges us on’ (2 Cor 5:14).”


At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is probably a silly question, and maybe I'm wrong in my recollection, but aren't women's feet also washed on Holy Thursday? The Apostles were men, so why would women have their feet washed?

At 11:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something was told to me tonight that I wanted to share-

When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him more than these (implying unconditional love), Peter responded that he did (in admiration and friendship). Jesus asked Peter the same question a second time and received the same response. But, when Jesus asked Peter a third time, Jesus asked him if he loved him (in admiration and friendship), and Peter said yes. Peter didn’t understand the kind of love to which he was being called and his confidence was shaken by being asked so many times. Jesus was identifying with Peter’s weakness; he knew the cross and meets Peter at his level. Peter felt hurt inside, but God always comes to us where we are.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger fran said...

Life sure is interesting. This morning I briefly glanced at a couple of sections of the newspaper.

I read a letter to the editor which reinforces many of the same thoughts previously expressed here, on why Notre Dame is in error in inviting the President to speak there in May. I then took a quick look at an article on Greek Easter traditions, in the Food section.

The homily at a mass I attended, shortly thereafter, was quite good, it's main theme being divisions in the church today and likened these divisions to Jesus' broken body.

First, it touched on how different gospel accounts have Passover being celebrated on different days.

Then, it referenced the article in today's Food section, which made mention of the fact that the Greek Eastern Orthodox church celebrates Easter on a different day this year, than Western churches. Divisions in the church..

The priest went on to say that while there is great joy when driving up New Hampshire Avenue and passing so many churches, there is also great sadness when driving up NH Avenue and passing so many churches. Divisions in the church..

Finally he suggested that we read John 17. In it Jesus says several times "so that they may be one," "so that they may all be one."

Before leaving mass, he placed a basket of the invitations from Archbishop Weurhl on a chair at the exit of the church, and asked if all in attendance would take one and send it to someone who had fallen away from their faith.

Just before I wrote this comment, I took a phone call from a total stranger who wanted to arrange an appointment with my husband and me for this Friday. I told him that we would not be able to do so. He told me what I could do to make the appointmnet work. I told him that it was a holy day in our church and that it would be impossible to get together on Friday. He then told me a brief but inspiring story about how he had been a non-believer but has since come back to his faith.

Life sure is interesting.

At 8:03 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

Apparently God may no longer be welcome at my alma mater University of MD's commencement ceremonies:


At 11:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son served at the Holy Thursday Mass. He had a little training session during the day with Fr. Mike before the Mass. When I picked him up, I asked him if he understood what he was supposed to do. He said, “I think so. I’m just not sure about what I’m supposed to do at the feet washing.” (He explained that during the school day the students did a washing of the hands, where they washed one another’s hands) I asked him if he thought he was going to have to wash people’s feet. He had disturbed look on his face when he answered, “I’m not sure.” I said, “Why would YOU wash anyone’s feet? Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. Who is the priest in the Mass?” He say, “Oh yeah, good!” I explained how the washing of the feet was all about being of service to one another. He said, “I want to be of service, I just really didn’t want to touch anyone’s feet.”

At 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Last night, my son told me that this decision has been reversed.


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