Reflections

Holy Thursday—Mass of the Last Supper, April 1, 2021

OUR EUCHARIST—DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME
Greeting (cf. the Gospel)
“If I, the Lord and Teacher,” says the Lord,
“have washed your feet,
you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
For I have set you an example
that you also should do as I have done to you.”
May the Lord and servant Jesus be always with you. R/ And with your spirit.
 
Introduction
This evening we have come together to celebrate the memory of Jesus’ farewell meal: At this supper so heavy with meaning, he did and said unusual, shocking things. Like the lowliest of servants, he, the great Teacher and Lord, washed the feet of his disciples and told them to become, like him, servants of people. Then, as they were eating, he passed the bread and the wine to them, saying: “This is my body broken for you. This is the cup of my blood shed for you. Love one another as I have loved you.” These events happened long ago, and yet, he tells us here and now: I have given you an example. As I have done, so you must do; as I have served, so you must serve. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. Thus, with Jesus we have to dedicate ourselves completely to the service of God and of our brothers and sisters. Total, self-forgetting and serving love must be the mark of the disciple of Jesus. Jesus is here with us to give us the spirit of service. He is our Eucharist. Let us celebrate in his memory.
 
Penitential Act
Our Lord gives himself to us in the Eucharist
that by his strength we may do as he did.
In his presence and before one another,
let us ask ourselves whether we have been faithful
to this task of love.
(silence)
 
Lord, in the Eucharist you call us together
to be one in you,
but we fail to set our differences aside
and to build up love and justice among us:
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
 
Christ our Lord, in the Eucharist you serve us,
but service and sacrifice for others
are often too humiliating and cost us too much:
Christ, have mercy. R/ Christ, have mercy.
 
Lord, in the Eucharist
you continue to share yourself with us,
but when we share
we often measure and weigh our gifts
and we don’t give ourselves:
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
 
May the Lord have mercy on us,
forgive us our lack of love and service
and lead us to everlasting life. R/ Amen.
 
Opening Prayer
Let us pray that we may celebrate the Lord’s Supper
with the Lord’s own attitude
(silence)
 
Our God and Father,
in this night
so different from all other nights,
we are gathered here to partake of the supper
which your only Son left us,
so that he could stay with us with all the fullness
of his liberating love.
He gave this meal to us
when he was about to die
and commanded us to celebrate it
as the new and eternal sacrifice.
We pray that in this encounter with your Son
he may share with us his life and love
and be our bread of strength
which enables us to do your loving will
to serve our neighbour far and near.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
 
First Reading: A Day of Festival, For Ever
As the Jews were saved by the blood of the paschal lamb, so we remember that Jesus is our saving Paschal Lamb. His death and resurrection brought us forgiveness and life.
 
1 Reading: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. “This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the LORD. For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD! But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you. “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”
 
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 116:12-13, 15-16BC, 17-18
R. (cf. 1 Cor 10:16) Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
 
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD. R.
 
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds. R.
 
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people. R.
 
Second Reading: This Is My Body for You
Paul reminds us that we have to let Jesus do among us in his memory what he did at the Last Supper: give us his body to eat.
 
2 Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
 
Gospel Acclamation: John 13:34
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
I give you a new commandment, says the Lord:
love one another as I have loved you.
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
 
Gospel: Wash Each Other’s Feet: Serve!
Jesus washed his apostles’ feet to impress them and us that service is at the heart of the gospel, together with self-giving.
 
Gospel: John 13:1-15
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin 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, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.” So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
 
General Intercessions
On this night, which is very different from all other nights, we are invited with the apostles to the supper of the Lord. Let us pray to him that we may enter into his own attitudes and dispositions of the night before he suffered, and let us say to him.
R/ Stay with us, Lord.
 
– Lord Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, you do the will of the Father to the end; you are loyal to your mission of love. Give us the same loyalty, that we may not seek our headstrong self-will but, in whatever we do, the will of the Father. We pray you, therefore:
R/ Stay with us, Lord.
– Lord, at the Last Supper you found a way to stay with those you love. Give us the strength to keep standing by the side of those in need of love, that we may support them in their misery and give them hope in life and in you. We pray you, therefore:
R/ Stay with us, Lord.
– Christ, our Savior, at the Last Supper you gave us your commandment of love as your last testament. Commit us to do the works of love so that we can truthfully celebrate the Eucharist by working toward social justice, peace and respect for human dignity. We pray you, therefore:
R/ Stay with us, Lord.
– Lord, on this night you showed that your love does not consist in mere words but that it is stronger than death, for you give your life for us. Give us the strength to love you and others with a love stronger than words, with a loyal and total love: We pray you, therefore:
R/ Stay with us, Lord.
– Lord Jesus, tonight you show us that love means humble service. We ask you for the courage not to do works of “charity” to be seen by people but to help others quietly and unobtrusively, so as to respect their human dignity, and to give preference to the poor, to the unknown, to little people, to the outcasts of life. We pray you, therefore:
R/ Stay with us, Lord.
 
Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of love, you said at the Last Supper, as you tell us again tonight, that a person can have no greater love than to lay down one’s life for ones’ friends. Give us the strength not to live for ourselves but, by the warmth of our hearts and our commitment to one another, to make your love a bit more visible on earth, that people may believe in you, now and for ever. R/ Amen.
 
Prayer Over the Gifts
Our God and Father,
your Son Jesus gave himself to his friends
as the new Paschal Lamb
in the taste of a piece of bread
and the joy of a cup of wine.
As he stays with us now,
may he nourish us with his body
to make us truly his body to the world,
the Church of his pilgrim people
on the march to the promised land
of everlasting joy and happiness.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
 
Introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer
Today we are poignantly told by Jesus: this is my body and blood for you;
this is I giving myself for you. Learn from me to give yourself to God and each other.
 
Introduction to the Our Father
Before we share the Lord’s table
as the people he has united,
let us pray with the Lord Jesus
the prayer which he himself has taught us. R/ Our Father…
 
Deliver Us
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil.
Give us today the bread of your Son
to lead us forward
on the road of love and service
and to be our strength
in the trials of life,
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ. R/ For the kingdom…
 
For the Breaking of Bread
We break bread together
for ourselves and for one another,
that the joy and peace
of our Lord Jesus Christ
may be with us for ever.
 
Invitation to Communion
This is the Lamb of God
who laid down his life
to take our sins away
and to be our life.
Come to the table of the Lord
in peace and friendship.
It is the Lord who invites us
and the Lord who nourishes us;
it is the Lord who gives us his peace. R/ Lord, I am not worthy…
 
May the body and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ
fill us with new life,
enable us to love one another,
and be for us a source of lasting peace.
 
Prayer after Communion
Our God and Father,
when he gave himself to his friends
as food and drink for the road,
your Son Jesus committed himself
to stay with us as the person for others
and the Lord who serves.
May we learn from him
to be committed to our neighbour,
to love and serve without counting the cost
and to set our brothers and sisters free
from all enslaving evil,
as a foretaste of the unending happiness
which you have prepared for us
through Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
 
Before the Procession
After the Last Supper, Jesus went with the apostles to the garden of Gethesemani to pray before he would be taken prisoner and begin his passion, to die the next day on the cross. Like the apostles, we are asked by our Lord to watch and pray with him. We could reflect on how he accepted his suffering out of loyal love for his Father and for us. We could also thank him for staying with us in the Eucharist, to be among us the bond of unity and love. 

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