Grace to you!
We come to the holiest three days in the Church's life. It is called the Triduum. Three main events are celebrated within these three days. They include the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist and, in our Catholic tradition, the Ministerial Priesthood (Holy Thursday); the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ (Good Friday); and the Resurrection (Easter Vigil – Saturday).
Unfortunately, this year, many would not have the opportunity to celebrate with our family of faith physically in Churches but only participate online through live streaming services. Some who do not have access to the technology of that kind may not be able to join at all. But we will still benefit from it and the incredible grace of this day if we connect with the mystery. In his video message of April 3, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, calls for this kind of disposition. He reminds us of God's boundless love and our commitment to what he described as the "creativity of love" amidst this situation of isolation. "Thought and spirit can go far with the creativity of love," for "God's love is boundless," says the Holy Father.
The Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has also decreed some guidelines to make the holy time grace-filling for believers, in the document, In Time of COVID-19 (II). For those who have access to television or the Internet, I advise following the Holy Father during the Liturgy of these days. Vatican News covers the Masses and celebrations live. EWTN is doing a fantastic job covering the Masses and plus other liturgical activities too. If your diocese or parish has live Masses, please join at those hours.
Also, more time for quiet and prayer is encouraged. The Divine Office is a beautiful prayer to accompany us during these days too.
On Holy Thursday, we don't simply remember the past events of Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection as dead and overtaken history. We are immersed in those events. They touch us with the incredible power of grace because they are God's definitive 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 (what is called anamnesis in theology) the life-giving event.
Today, Holy Thursday, we connect with and celebrate Christ's institution 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. He transforms us, including all we bring to the sacrifice. We become a blessing to many too.
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 Christ's life. He substantially lives in us in a way far more than we can imagine.
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. The bread and wine used on the first Holy Thursday were essentially the body and blood of Christ a day before Christ offered his life as the Lamb of sacrifice 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 a mystery. A mystery, as we know, is what is revealed though we do not fully grasp it. It is a mystery revealed in Christ and His Body, the Church. It is a mystery that is beyond time for in it grace overflows to many. Participating in this mystery, we are espoused with Christ.
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 feast, the marriage of the Lamb on earth.
I invite you to surrender to this mystery. Avail yourself the opportunity of being in it and part of it. If you don't have the chance of physically being present, connect with the Mother Church spiritually. No better blessing on earth could we find, than at the Eucharist. Holy Thursday is the unique day of this mystery.
May God's boundless love lead you on. Amen.
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]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.