MASS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER
2nd April, 2015
Exod 12:1-14; Ps 116:12-18; 1 Cor 11:23-26; John 13:1-15
This evening we begin our celebration of the Sacred Triduum, these three most holy days, in which we recall all the events of our salvation. In the words of Pope Francis we are again 'accepting the Lord's offer of salvation' and 'are set free from sin, inner emptiness and loneliness.'
The Gospel passage tells us so much. Here, in this poignant scene recorded by the beloved disciple, we encounter Jesus, before he shares a final meal with his closest friends.
Christ was celebrating with his disciples, the feast of Passover: the saving act of God in freeing His people from slavery under the Egyptians, just as we here, are celebrating the saving act of God freeing us from slavery to sin.
Jesus knows that one of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, will betray him. Judas is present at his table with the other disciples. This is important knowledge, for when we understand this truth about Jesus, then we can begin to become free of our own fear of evil, of its presence in our lives, in our own hearts, perhaps even at our own table.
Jesus, at this moment, is poised between his loving trust in his Heavenly Father and the presence of evil that seeks to betray and destroy him. What does he do?
Jesus wraps a towel that servants' wear, around his waist, gets down on his knees and washes feet. In washing his disciples' feet, an action that we echo here in a few moments, we read that Jesus is poised between good and evil.
This is what Jesus teaches us to do, in loving trust of our Father, even in the face of wrong-doing, suspicion, judgement and condemnation. 'If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.'
This is like an inheritance passed on to us. Forgiveness and service are powerfully present in the heart of Jesus, and when we come to know and love his heart, then we too learn to have these same gifts to give to others. For this reason, the Church, today, in the liturgy—performs the action of the washing of the feet, which reminds us that we must be servants of one another.
St Paul’s account of Christ’s institution of the Eucharist at this Last Supper is very clear. We commemorate this every time we take part in the Mass, every time we receive Christ’s body and blood, every time we join our heart to His during communion, we also take a seat at Christ’s table at the last supper.
So what is tonight about? It’s about love: Self-sacrificing, self-giving, enduring love. It’s the love that flows forth from Christ as he gives himself to us as the everlasting covenant of love. And it’s the love that leads us now to celebrate the Washing of the Feet and then the transformation of ordinary bread and wine into Christ’s own Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
May we, who desire to follow Christ to Calvary and to the empty tomb, open our hearts to receive that love, and share it with others. Amen.
Bishop Leslie Tomlinson