Holy Thursday:
The Last Supper,
Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet,
The First Mass/Eucharist,
The First Ordination of Priests

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The Last Supper - by LEONARDO da Vinci,
from Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Refectory), Milan

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The Institution of the Eucharist - by JOOS van Wassenhove -
from Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, Urbino

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Jesus washes His Disciples' feet - by GIOTTO di Bondone -
from Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

 

(John 13:1-15)

It was now the day before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. He had always loved those in the world who were His own, and He loved them to the very end.

Jesus and His disciples were at supper. The Devil had already put the thought of betraying Jesus into the heart of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Jesus knew that the Father had given Him complete power; He knew that He had come from God and was going to God. So He rose from the table, took off His outer garment, and tied a towel around His waist. Then He poured some water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around His waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, "Are You going to wash my feet, Lord?"

Jesus answered him, "You do not understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later."

Peter declared, "Never at any time will You wash my feet!"

"If I do not wash your feet," Jesus answered, "you will no longer be My disciple."

Simon Peter answered, "Lord, do not wash only my feet, then! Wash my hands and head, too!"

Jesus said, "Anyone who has taken a bath is completely clean and does not have to wash himself, except for his feet. All of you are clean - all except one." (Jesus already knew who was going to betray Him; that is why He said, "All of you, except one, are clean."

After Jesus had washed their feet, He put His outer garment back on and returned to His place at the table. "Do you understand what I have just done to you?" He asked. "You call Me Teacher and Lord, and it is right that you do so, because that is what I am. I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet. You, then, should wash one another's feet. I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you. I am telling you the truth: no slave is greater than his master, and no messenger is greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know this truth, how happy you will be if you put it into practice!"

 

Holy Thursday

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crucifixion3.jpg (1600 bytes)The priest is most a priest when he humbly and without self-centeredness or self-consciousness washes the emotional, psychological and spiritual feet of those who come to him with the dust of the world's road, the mud of the world's ways, clinging to them. He is priest when he hands over his time and his energy for their care - without counting his costs in doing so for them.

The priest is most a priest when he stands for the honor of God, when he will not compromise the substance of our faith, nor the ways of our faith, in order to simply please people. He is priest when he does so without counting the cost of the loss of human respect for him. His only power is to hand over what Jesus taught us and what Jesus gave to us; he cannot hand over human stones when they need Heavenly Bread. We all want to be liked - but at what price? The priest cannot sell out the honor of God for thirty pieces of silver, or for whatever the going rate is for human respect.

The priest is most a priest when he hands over his life, his own personal convenience, his own agenda, or his own dreams, in order that he might devote himself to caring for those in front of him, who came to him, as they came to Jesus, in their need. He must do so without regard for the cost, or without regard for affirmations or acclamations (either his own or other's) as a reward.

The priest is most a priest when he himself lives the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in his own personal life. He celebrates in an unbloody way Christ's Sacrifice here on this altar. The priest also celebrates, in his own human flesh and blood, the many sacrifices of Christ. Poverty, chastity and obedience are lived by the priest in order to be powerless, in order to humbly place his life in the caring hands of our loving Father in Heaven.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who was born the year before Christopher Columbus discovered America, said it all in a beautiful prayer:

 

Lord, teach me to be generous;
Teach me to serve You as You deserve:
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to look for rest,
To labor and not ask for reward
Save that of knowing I am doing Your Will.

Saint Ignatius Loyola

 

Meditations on the Triduum

by Father John Corapi

 

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