Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Holy Thursday Homily 2013

Homily Holy Thursday 2013


Many of our separated Christian brethren refer to today’s celebration

as “Maundy Thursday,”

          a name derived ultimately from the Latin word “mandatum,”

          meaning command or mandate.


The word is part of a longer verse in the Gospels:

          Mandatum novum do vobis…I give you a new commandment

          Love one another as I have loved you.


This sacred day, the beginning of the special season of three days known as the

          Paschal Triduum

          and the day on which Christ instituted the Eucharist and the Priesthood

          is the Thursday of the Mandate to Love

          manifested in two clear and meaningful commandments of Jesus.


These significant directives,

couched in the Passover meal on the eve of the Passion,

are cornerstones of Christian discipleship.


Of the Eucharist, Jesus says: “Do this in memory of me.”


Upon washing the disciples’ feet, he says “As I have done, so you must do.”


Eucharist and service are both mandated for the disciple.


Jesus anticipates the following day’s agony

          in which He will be broken open, spent and poured out

          for the salvation of the world

          and in a desire to leave a memorial and a living experience of Himself

          for all who would be joined to His Body, the Church.


And so He took ordinary bread and wine

          and substantially transformed them into His very Body and Blood.


He then made clear that this memorial meal and sacrifice should be perpetuated

          in and through His Church.


We know what “is” is.  “Do this” is an unequivocal statement.


This is my Body.  This is my Blood.

Do this in memory of me.


Far from a mere symbol, the Eucharist is the very substance of the Son of God.


He who emptied Himself in becoming man, humbled Himself in accepting death,

          surely would not hesitate to make Himself continually available to us

                   in the Holy Mass.


Far from an optional or incidental aspect of our faith,

          the Eucharist is the very source of grace for all we do

          and the summit of the Church’s activity.


A Catholic who struggles with believing the Eucharist is really Christ

          should take on sincere soul-searching, penance and reparation.


Life without the Eucharist is like pistons without oil, a radiator without coolant,

          a cactus without sun, a fish without water.


Without the life-giving food of the Eucharist there is no Church, no lifeline to Jesus,

          only dryness and darkness for the souls of mankind.   


Yet, through the Eucharist we are filled with the presence of Jesus,

          given new hope and a glimpse of eternal glory.


Today we celebrate the unveiling of God’s perfect plan

for the unity and holiness of humanity.

He allows us to feast on His Son and become one with Him and each other.


Jesus furthermore desires that the relationship we have with Him

          overflow in the love we have for our fellow men and women.


Thus, He stoops to the ground to wash the feet of His disciples,

          giving them an example of the kind of love

Christians are to possess and display to one another.


Christ-like love is expressed in humility, in binding the wounds of others,

          in washing clean what has become soiled by sin and evil,

          in stooping low in order to raise another up to new hope.


This kind of love has been clearly displayed by our new pope,

          who, as a Jesuit experienced in his formation as a seminarian

          an assignment working with the poor and the sick

          and who today in Rome chose to celebrate Mass at a juvenile prison

          and wash the feet of 12 struggling young men.


Whenever we dive in to do our best at home, at school, at work

          to meet the needs of others without concern for the cost to us,

          we become a living image of Jesus to others

          and live out the command of Jesus in the Gospel of this Mass.


In the Church’s recent past, there have been strains of theological conjecture

          that sought to put Jesus’ two commandments at the Last Supper

in opposition to each other

as if the service to the poor and working for justice

meant ignoring what takes place in the sanctuary

and instead building a utopian kingdom of justice in this world

with no foresight toward eternity.


In reality, however, the very fact that Jesus issues the commands to

          celebrate the Eucharist and offer ourselves in loving service to others

          in the context of the same gathering with the Apostles

          shows that they go hand in hand.





Mother Theresa, known and beloved for her outreach to the poor,

          had tremendous devotion to the Eucharistic Christ

          and made sure her sisters spent an hour each day in quiet prayer

          before the Tabernacle.


The Passover celebrates the deliverance from slavery in Egypt

and God’s love for His chosen people.

It is celebrated devoutly by Jews in remembrance of God’s care for them.

The blood of the lamb marked the door posts of the Israelites,

          saved from the destroying hand of God’s messenger.


The Passover Jesus celebrates with the Apostles anticipates the shedding of blood

by the Lamb of God, Jesus Himself,

the Blood which marks the lintels of His servants

as it passes our lips and enters our bodies.

It is the moment in which He leaves us a lasting experience of His love

          and a living example of how we are to love one another.


The Eucharist elevates our service from mere social work

          to sharing the love of God we have received into our bodies and souls.


Embrace the Eucharist.

Never forsake an opportunity to spend time with Jesus in prayer

          and give honor to His Eucharistic presence.


Let Him who comes to us in the Mass shine in you

as you continue to be a servant of those in need – the least of His people.

Do this.  As I have done, so you must do.


These mandates: Eucharist and service: celebrating with reverence the Holy Mass

and devoutly praying before the Blessed Sacrament,

and turning with the heart and hands of Jesus to love our brothers and sisters

form a perfect pattern of life for the disciple

and are the legacy left behind for us but Jesus in today’s Last Supper story.


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