HOMILY FOR HOLY THURSDAY
HOMILY THEME: ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.
BY: Christ in the Desert Monastery, Abiquiu, New Mexico
HOMILY: My sisters and brothers in Christ,
There are those strangely blessed people who may not remember the quantity and frequency of the actual spoken words, “I love you,” issuing forth from their parents’ mouths. But, these strangely blessed people do remember most every act of love and sacrifice by their parents of which they were beneficiaries. We have all heard the adage: actions speak louder than words. Through the actions of God the Father and Jesus the Son we receive the fullness of Divine Love and grace, and today we enter the Sacred Triduum, these last great days in the celebration of the death and Resurrection of Jesus for our salvation.
The Book of Exodus gives us the story of the first Passover–which tells us in symbols about the Lamb of God, by whom we are saved. God initiated the Passover feast as a means of protecting the Israelites against the tenth plague, which would liberate them from the Egyptians, and he instructed the Israelites to celebrate the Passover annually as a memorial of their deliverance from Egypt. God acted to save His chosen people and our ancestors remembered His act of love for them for generations to come.
The First Letter to the Corinthians details the most ancient account of the Eucharist that we have, and invites us to understand the Eucharist just as did our ancestors in the faith. Christ left us the Eucharist as a visible, unbloody, sacramental sign by which his one, bloody Sacrifice on the Cross would be re-presented and remembered until he comes again. What an awesome and powerful act of love! How do we prepare ourselves each Sunday (or everyday) to receive so great a privilege? As we ponder on our privilege, Our Lord reverses our understanding of privilege and greatness in the Gospel reading.
The Gospel from Saint John provides the account of the washing of the feet–a fulfillment of the Passover and a fulfillment of the Eucharist. Washing the feet of others is an action that speaks loudly to others. When Jesus Himself takes up the towel and basic to wash feet, it was a surprise to his followers because it would not be the normal way to do this lowly service. It was clearly an act done for them displaying taking on the service of a servant or slave. The role of servant or slave is at the heart of priesthood and at the heart of all Eucharist–the giving thanks for the marvelous works of God, the receiving of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Washing the feet of guests was a task normally performed by a household slave. The lesson Christ was trying to convey to his Apostles was that the most effective demonstration is a radical spirit of service that know no limits. The ceremony of foot-washing is part of the Liturgy for Holy Thursday. If a priest or any Christian is unwilling to become a slave and a servant to others, then we are being unfaithful to our Lord Jesus and His loving act that we repeat annually.
Whether we go forth with the clean feet of a receiver of a service or the dirty hands of a servant who washes feet, we are blessed to be participants in God’s providence either way. God acted in ways that we could remember and emulate. Let us act towards others in the hope that God’s love will be remembered through our hands… and feet.
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