Grace to you!
We come to the holiest three days in the Church’s life, what is called Triduum. Three main events are celebrated within these three days. They include the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist and of the Ministerial Priesthood in our Catholic tradition (Holy Thursday), the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ (Good Friday) and the Resurrection (Easter Vigil – Saturday).
We aren’t simply remembering the past events of Christ suffering, death and resurrection as dead and bygone history. We’re immersed in those events. They touch us with incredible power of grace because they are God’s classic acts for human salvation. They are power and grace, giving life to many. They are alive and active. As it is a memorial, we celebrate and relive the life-giving event. In philosophy and theology, this way of reliving the history is called anamnesis.
Today, Holy Thursday, we connect with and celebrate Christ’s institutions of the Eucharist. We equally celebrate his service to the apostles, his constant example of service to us in his Church. We celebrate his commissioning of all who are to serve as ministers of the Word and the Sacraments. It is a service of the altar during liturgical worship. It is also a call to service for all God’s people including the poor, the needy (both spiritual and material) and the broken-hearted.
We are part of the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Christ Jesus has opened for us the access to offer to God all we are so there will be the transformation of our gifts, beginning with the gift of ourselves, into the sacrifice of himself for many.
The Eucharist, our Bread of Life, plus the celebration, our participation in the heavenly mystery, is equally the profound opportunity of grace for us. In it we have access by grace to the summit of Christ’s life and celebration.
Today, we become active, not passive participants, at the event of the institution of the Eucharist. The sacrifice of Jesus over two thousand years ago, and what we offer in memorial of him today, are one. Just as the bread and wine used on the first Holy Thursday were essentially the body and blood of Christ a day before the sacrifice was ultimately offered on Good Friday, in the same way, the bread and wine remain the body and blood of Christ thousands of years after the actual historical birth of the Eucharist.
Why? Because it is mystery (revealed and yet not fully grasped); the mystery revealed in Christ and in His Body, the Church. In this mystery which goes beyond time, everything is wrapped up as one in Christ, through Christ, yesterday, today and forever.
Thus, you and I have become part of that mystery; for when we celebrate the Eucharist as an Assembly of God, it is Christ himself who celebrates. The Priest, the members and indeed the words of the celebration are part of the same event, the same mystery. It is a high privilege to be part of the celebration.
I invite you to surrender to this mystery and avail yourself the opportunity of being in it and part of it. As believers, no better blessing on earth could we find, except at the Eucharist. Holy Thursday is the unique day of this mystery.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Holy Thursday: Reflection on Mass of the Lord’s Supper; Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections for the season of Lent your individual spiritual edification. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations. .