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, April 18, 2014

Observe what is set before you and imitate it: Holy Thursday Homily 2014

The great 4th Century bishop and father of the Church, Saint Augustine,

in one of his commentaries on the Sacred Scriptures,

directs our attention to the Proverbs of Solomon

where there is a verse that aids us in opening up

the meaning of this evening’s sacred liturgy…


If you sit down to eat at the table of a ruler,

observe carefully what is set before you;

then stretch out your hand,

knowing that you must provide the same kind of meal yourself.


Our commemoration of the Lord’s Supper is an annual reminder

          of the kind of Eucharistic life we are called to live as disciples of Jesus.


Jesus is the ruler of all creation, the eternal priest and universal king.

As He did long ago in the upper room,

He prepares a table before us

and invites us to join with Him in a banquet of intimate communion.


This is no ordinary table and no ordinary ruler who extends to us the invitation.

It is the Altar of the Lord. 

Augustine continues, saying,

What is this ruler’s table

if not the one at which we receive the body and blood

of Him who laid down His life for us?

This sacred banquet of the Holy Mass

is also the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary.

As the Last Supper anticipated the passion of the following day,

          so now our Eucharistic memorial takes us back to the foot of the Cross.

The Cross stands forever as the great sign of the love of God

poured out upon our world.


In the Mass, we commune with the Lord.

We receive the same broken body and poured out blood

that was immolated for love of us on the Cross.

In the Eucharist worthily received,

our hearts and souls are fused together with the Heart of Jesus.


The Holy Mass is the source of grace to sustain the life of the Church

          and the summit of all her teaching, pastoral and sacramental activity. 

To taste a glimpse of the love and splendor we will experience in Heaven,

          we need only to come to Mass.

This Eucharist is the pinnacle of all we do on earth. 


And so, as we come to the table of our ruler

and the Altar of Sacrifice of our great High Priest

let us follow the Proverb and carefully observe what He has set before us.








First Reading

Mass is the fulfillment of the Lord’s command

for the Passover to be celebrated as a perpetual institution,

Where the Passover of old celebrated the deliverance of Israel

from slavery in Egypt

now the Mass commemorates the freedom of God’s people

from slavery to sin through the blood of Jesus.

Christ is true Lamb of God, whose blood can truly and completely take away sins.


Second Reading

Paul teaches that our celebration of the Mass

is a sharing in the tradition of the Apostles

who heard the words of the Lord at the Last Supper

and handed on the mysteries of the Lord in obedience to His command.



Hear the familiar story of Jesus stooping to wash the feet of the disciples,

          which we will commemorate in ritual form here tonight.


Thus we can see clearly the two commands of the Lord on this night:

          “As I have washed your feet, so you must do for one another.”

          And, having given them His Body and Blood,

          “Do this in memory of me.”



Having observed carefully what this night is about

and what the Lord has set before us, again following Augustine’s words,

we stretch out our hands to prepare such a meal ourselves.


At the end of tonight’s Mass, we will solemnly carry

Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to the place of repose

where we will spend time in adoration until midnight.

We will obey His pleading to stay awake and keep watch with Him.


Honoring Jesus Christ in the Eucharist by preparing ourselves well

with observance of the Communion fast and regular confession

for a worthy reception of His Body and Blood

and by spending time in prayer with our Lord

is the core of learning to prepare the same kind of meal

the Lord prepared for us.


Our hearts having communed with the Lord in the Eucharist, then,

          we stretch out our hands and lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters,

          just as Jesus laid down His life for us.


Christ left us an example, an example of self-sacrificing love,

          so that we night follow in His footsteps.


That example includes the washing of the Apostles’ feet –

          the Christian must be always ready to stoop low, to get his hands dirty,

          to serve without counting the cost to oneself,

          in order to follow Christ’s example of loving service. 

Recently, on the news, there was a story of a young man

who was touched by the sight of a schoolmate who had no lunch.

He began to collect money from his friends in order to buy lunch for him.

This got the boy thinking…his thinking blossomed into action…

          by this month he has raised $10,000 through different projects

          to make sure every child in his school always has a lunch. 


That is the kind of spontaneous and dedicated service,

resulting from our being moved with compassion for others,

that is the hallmark of a godly, Christian life.


How often we pretend not to see, or see and ignore, the needs of the marginalized.

To do so is to neglect the real meaning of the Eucharist –

          a sacramental encounter with Jesus that He gave us

          to change us from within into imitators of His love. 


The Holy Eucharist is a communion with the Lord’s own life and sacrifice

          that prepares and enlivens us to turn to those in need,

stretch out our hand and lay down our life for them.


This is the Eucharistic life: honoring Christ

by reverently receiving Him in Communion

and by serving Him in lifting up the lowly and binding their wounds. 


As Christians, we carefully observe all that is before us tonight

and we commit ourselves to living what we celebrate.

These are the Lord’s commands.  This is the way to eternal life. 

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