1.Exodus: 12:1-2,11-14
2.1Corinthians 11:23-26
Gospel: John13:1-15

                             "Do this in memory of me."

Life in Palestine in the time of Jesus was hard. The popular means of transport was your feet. People walked long distances on rough, dusty roads to go from Galilee to Jerusalem, for example. Travellers often arrived their destinations with sore and aching feet. As a sign of hospitality, the host would see to it that his guests were given a warm foot bath and massage as a way of relieving their aches and pains. This was usually done by the house servants or slaves.

This service of bathing and soothing the tired feet was also provided by the rest houses or inns found at strategic locations along the major roads and highways. Travelers worn out along the way could go into these rest houses and have food and foot bath. When their energy thus restored they would then be able to continue and complete their long journey. That is how such rest houses along the way got the name " restaurants".... they restored strength to tired and exhausted travellers on the way. The disciples would have understood Jesus washing their feet in light of this cultural background. And for us it is a pointer to the meaning of the Eucharist we celebrate.

Understood in light of the washing of feet, the Eucharist is a place of restoration for people on the way. The life of a Christian in the world is a pilgrimage, a long, hard journey. A long the way we get tired and worn out and we are tempted to give up and turn back. But Jesus has provided us with the Eucharist as a place where we can go in to bath our aching feet and to be refreshed in body and soul for the journey that is still ahead. When we give communion to a sick person we call it viaticum which means " provisions for a journey." The Eucharist is always a viaticum: in the Eucharist we derive strength to continue our upward journey toward God.

Today is Holy Thursday and we come together  in this Evening Mass of the Lord's last Supper to officially open the Easter Triduum in preparation for the commemoration of the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus on Easter Sunday. Holy Thursday is the moment in our life whereby we come together to recall in our hearts and minds the events that occur on Thursday  during Holy Week which is the last week in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. During this last supper Jesus and His disciples gather together to celebrate the Passover meal. Passover meal commemorates the day when the Jews were in bondage in Egypt. By which Moses warned Pharaoh to let his people go but Pharaoh hardened his heart. So God sent a death  over the land of Egypt but miraculously this death passed over the homes of the Jews. Thus the season of Passover was given birth. The meal itself reminds the Jews of the sufferings of their forefathers and the power of God's deliverance.

Towards the end of the meal, Jesus  adds two more symbols. He takes a loaf of bread breaks it and gives it to His disciples saying: "Take and eat it, this is my body which is broken for you, do this in remembrance of me." Then he takes the cup with wine He drinks from it and gives it to His disciples saying: " Drink all of this, for this is my blood which is shed for you and for may for the forgiveness of sin." Through these words the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is instituted ( other accounts are in Matt 26:26 and Lk22:19). This is the only sacrifice fully accepted to the Heavenly Father for the redemption of humankind by which Jesus, who became one of us, is both priest and victim as He offers Himself once and for all for the salvation of the world.

Moreover, during Last Supper He also instituted the sacrament of priesthood, the authority and power to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or the Holy Eucharist. He said: "Do this in memory of me," ( Lk 22:19, 1Cor11:24). Jesus instituted priesthood because He wants the memorial of His passion and death to relieved until the end of time in an un bloody manner. Also, without the priest as the presider the offering of the Holy Eucharist is not possible. And so therefore, the two sacraments are essentially tied together.
We are reminded to serve one another as we celebrate Holy Thursday, Jesus removes His outer garment, put a towel around Himself, (v.4) and washes His disciples' feet. He consciously performs the task of a slave. Jesus purposely does the feet washing so that the act will make a lasting impression on them. Jesus concludes: " I have given you a model to follow so that as I have done for you, you should also do." In other words, humble service should characterize all who identify themselves as Christians.

St. John implies that we are united with Jesus by letting him wash our feet, accepting his great act of loving service. Having accepted the gift we must embrace it as a value to practice in our lives. What Jesus does for us in his passion shows us how to live. In some real sense, we must live like Jesus, for God and others. There is a close link between Jesus washing their feet and their going on to wash the feet of others in the future. If the Eucharist is the place where the Lord washes our feet, daily life is the place where we can wash the feet of others. The Eucharistic piety must lead to service of others. Jesus who broke the bread of the Eucharist also washed the feet of his disciples. We are invited also to break ourselves daily for others. We must follow his example at the altar of the Eucharist and at the altar of life.

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Chapisha Maoni