HOMILY FOR HOLY THURSDAY
HOMILY THEME: Jesus, Our Passover Lamb teaches us Humility.
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
HOMILY: “For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15)
Our liturgy this evening is packed full with so many symbols that it barely needs any homily. I would simply invite us to watch carefully and allow the events to speak to the innermost depths of our hearts.
First, today is our day of Passover. As contained in today’s first reading, God gave the people of Israel instructions regarding the Passover. Every family was to gather to eat a lamb whose blood will be sprinkled on the doorposts of their houses. They were to eat the flesh that night roasted with unleavened bread, loins girded; sandals on their feet and in haste.
As God said to Moses: “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you.”(Exodus 12:12-13).
It is important to note that it was on the anniversary of the Passover, on a night like this, at that same time that the lambs were being slaughtered that Jesus in a gathering of his disciples “slaughtered” himself by giving us His very body and blood in Holy Communion. Tonight, as St. Paul narrates in our second reading, we commemorate the very first Mass, the very first occasion where Jesus transubstantiated bread and wine into His body and blood.
So, rather than having to smear our doors with the blood of lambs, the body and blood of Jesus now serve as our Passover from death and destruction. No wonder Jesus himself said in John 6:53, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
In other words, by staying away from Holy Communion or by partaking in it unworthily, we are just like Egyptians that did not have the blood of the lamb on their doorpost that night. Without Holy Communion, we expose ourselves to danger and there is no guarantee of eternal life on the last day. This is why we pay special attention to the Holy Eucharist this night and as you shall see, we would take the Body of Jesus around the Church in procession and then place on a specially designed Altar for Veneration.
Do not be too quick to go home after mass. Try to spend some quiet moment in adoration before Jesus who is present under the appearance of Bread in the Ciborium. And as you adore Jesus, I am very sure you would be distracted. You would find it difficult to adore when you consider the fact that the Jesus you serve, your King of Kings and Lord of Lords is just sitting right there inside that Ciborium. You might wonder if that is really Jesus because that place where He is kept is too unworthy to house Him, even the priests and mass servers are too unworthy to Handle Him just like that. If this thought distracts you, just know it is part of the Humility of Jesus.
Satan tempted Jesus with earthly glory. Satan wanted Jesus to appear great before everyone, he wanted him to jump down from the pinnacle of the temple, just for people to say and say, “Yes, Jesus is God”. Instead, Jesus so humbled himself that He chose ordinary bread as the host for His body.
The humility of Jesus in Holy Communion is further buttressed by Jesus’ decision to wash the feet of His disciples. Washing one’s feet was a task allotted to slaves in the Jewish culture, it was the most humiliating task anyone would do for another. The disciples were shocked, they couldn’t imagine God stooping so low as to wash their dirty feet.
Jesus made them understand that this action was symbolic: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:14-15). If Jesus could be this humble, then who am I? What stops me from bringing myself down to wash other people’s feet?
Can I really call myself a Christian if I fail to imitate Christ? How do I treat people who are less than me; my workers, my house-helps, my gatemen, my assistants, my younger ones? Learn from Jesus. Pride is dangerous.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, you sacrificed yourself for my salvation, your blood continues to plead on my behalf, teach me to sacrifice for the wellbeing of others and help me to always humble myself. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Bible Study: Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 116, 1st Corinthians 11:23-26 and John 13:1-15).