Today, we begin the most solemn Sacred Triduum. It is a three-day long journey with the Lord Jesus who is about to suffer a passion, be crucified and die for us.
We also begin this journey when the world, our country and perhaps someone we know are suffering a passion as well. Today, the hearts of many cry out to the Lord and ask: “Master, to whom shall we go?” Only you, Jesus, can give us hope of new life amid so much pain and uncertainty. May we not despair, may we not abandon the Lord, may we keep our eyes fixed on you, Lord Jesus.
On the eve of his painful and shameful death for us, the Lord is at table with his friends. Yes, the Lord had close friends to whom he turned on his most difficult hour. Brothers and sisters, we too need friends. This evening the Lord invites us to foster the gift of friendship, to welcome it and to reciprocate it. It is Christian to have close friends: it is Christlike to gather at table with our own.
In this regard, the Gospel of John we just heard proclaimed said that Jesus “loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.” Now, who are Jesus’ own? That is you and me. Yes, God loves us. It might be a temptation these days to forget that God is love: how can He be? How can we talk about God’s love in a time of pandemic? Tonight, I invite you to learn the love that God has for you directly from him: fix your eyes upon his and learn that you are loved “to the end.”
On this sacred evening, we also notice that the Lord takes bread and wine and transforms it into his Body and Blood! This is unheard-of! Bread and Wine transformed into a divine person! And by the way, this miracle takes place at every Eucharist. When the time for the consecration comes- that is when the priest takes the host and says: “take this all of you and eat of it” and then the chalice saying “take this all of you and drink from it” – in that moment, the priest is not performing a mere symbolic action from the past or a dramatization of what the Lord did some two thousand years ago. In that moment, the exact same thing that happened on the Last Supper happens again right there! The bread and wine are transformed into Jesus himself! It is his Body and it is his Blood the ones dwelling on the altar. This, again, should be breathtaking and mind blowing - if you will - and if it’s not, we should ask God for the grace of realizing what is in front of us at mass. This is why the bells ring during the consecration: they ring to announce that God has become present, yes, at Queen of Apostles, yes, with our past and our present, yes the Lord still shows up at our parish in his Body and his Blood!
Another great mystery that is revealed to us this evening: we are invited to eat and drink the Lord’s Body and Blood, of course, if we are well disposed. The Lord Jesus becomes present on the altar not to remain there, but to be received in communion and behold, in saint Augustine words, we become what we receive! We become the Body of Christ when we receive the Body of Christ! This is very important to keep in mind especially these days of Pandemic, because there are members of this mystical body of Christ that we are that are suffering and struggling today. When our leg hurts the eye does not say: oh, look, the leg is hurting but rather the pain felt by the leg is also felt by the entire body. Likewise, the pain of many today should move us all to compassion and to action: to stay in touch, to check on one another, to ask how things are going and to offer help. These are days to wash one another’s feet, following the example of the Lord Jesus.
Holy Thursday, the first day of the Sacred Triduum: it is the Lord’s journey and our journey as well. I invite us to remain close to him these days so that we too may enjoy the gift of new life that he is and that he offers.