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Holy Thursday

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2013/03/27 at 12:00 AM
  • With this Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we begin our solemn 3-part vigil in preparation for Easter Sunday known as the Triduum.
  • As its name suggests, the Triduum is three liturgies in one, consisting of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which we are now celebrating, the Passion of the Lord, which we will celebrate tomorrow, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night.
  • Tonight, with this Mass, we sit with Christ at the Last Supper as He gives us the inseparable gifts of the priesthood and the Eucharist, and at the end of the Mass we will follow our Lord into the Garden of Gethsemane to watch and pray with Him.
  • Tomorrow we will witness all that He suffers for us, and we will stand at the foot of the cross with His Mother as Jesus dies for our sins. And finally, on Holy Saturday night, we will peer into the empty tomb and experience anew the glory of His resurrection.
  • Tonight’s Gospel tells us that Jesus “loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.” In celebrating the liturgies of Triduum, we see the many ways that our Lord shows His love for us.
  • In tonight’s Mass our Lord shows us His love by giving us His two most powerful and important gifts: the priesthood and the Eucharist.
  • Tomorrow, we witness our Lord’s sacrificial and self-emptying love poured out for us on the cross. In His great love for us, Jesus will suffer and die a most ignoble death, even though He is innocent, and He will do so to save us from our sins.
  • And on Holy Saturday night we will experience His love through the power of His resurrection, a gift that He lovingly promises to give to each of us if we simply believe in Him and live our lives as witnesses to our belief in Him.
  • The liturgies of the Triduum also show us God’s greatness, and in tonight’s Mass we see our Lord’s greatness expressed paradoxically in humble service.
  • Although Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He kneels before His disciples and washes their feet like a common slave, an action that we memorialize in this Mass.
  • Our Lord’s humility does not end there, though. We see Christ’s humility expressed in two other important ways in tonight’s Mass.
  • We see His humility in the fact that He is willing to become our food and drink. In His great love for us, He hides His infinite greatness in bread and wine so that we might eat and drink of our redemption in Holy Communion.
  • Not only does Jesus become bread and wine, but He even extends His power to confect the Eucharist, to forgive sins, to bless and heal and counsel and teach to weak and broken men like myself in the gift of the priesthood.
  • And our Lord does this not so that He can elevate priests above the people entrusted to their care, but so that there might be men in this world who will perpetuate His love and continue His humble service throughout history.
  • And all this: His humble service, His love, His twin gifts of the Eucharist and the priesthood we experience and live anew in this Mass.
  • As we experience our Lord’s loving and humble service, as we receive His gifts of the priesthood and the Eucharist, we are called to give thanks to our Lord.
  • We show our gratitude first by our willingness to follow our Lord into the Garden tonight so that we might stay and pray with Him. As such, at the end of this Mass we will have a Eucharistic Procession and Adoration until midnight.
  • Yet the gratitude demanded of us for such awesome gifts cannot be satisfied by prayer alone. Indeed, our gratitude to Christ is best shown through humble imitation of Him.
  • Like our Lord, we also must be willing to humble ourselves before others and serve them. We must be willing to give of ourselves fully through charitable words and actions, most especially through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
  • We must also show our love and gratitude to our Lord by treating the Eucharist with profound reverence and love, maintaining a reverent decorum whenever we are in its presence, only receiving the Eucharist when we are properly disposed to do so.
  • Lastly, we show our thanks to our Lord by the way we treat our priests, recognizing that by the grace of Holy Orders, priests stand in Christ’s place here on earth.
  • I make this last point with a great deal of trepidation, because although by grace I am a priest of Jesus Christ, I am a weak and sinful man. I sincerely ask for your forgiveness for the times that I have failed to be a priest like Jesus Christ.
  • But even though priests are weak and sinful, we must treat them with a certain respect and reverence because they stand in the person of Christ. Indeed, because of the great dignity priests possess, we must treat priests as we would treat Jesus Himself.
  • Truly, I’ve found that most of you here at St. Ann’s do just that, and I’m so very grateful for the respect, affection, and love you show me despite my faults and failings.
  • But if I may be so bold as to ask something of you, I ask that you pray for me an d for all priests. Pray that we may be truly holy, truly Christ-like in every way so that we can be proper pastors and shepherds of souls.
  • It can be a frightening thing to stand at the altar and call down our Lord from Heaven, holding Him, Who is our Creator, in my hands. It’s an awesome responsibility to stand in His place and bless, heal, counsel, teach, and forgive sins. So we need your prayers.
  • Pray that we may be always fervent, chaste, prudent and charitable. Pray that we have the courage to live our vocations with reverence and integrity. Pray most of all that we be effective in helping you on the path to salvation.
  • Looking back over the last 4 years that I’ve been at St. Ann’s, I am so very grateful for your prayers, support, and love. Truly, it’s hard for me to imagine a parish that I’d rather be serving than this one.
  • I am most grateful for your willingness to bear with me as we’ve made so many changes, especially to our church and to our liturgy. I’m quite conscious of the fact that I’ve asked a lot of this parish.
  • The guiding principles I’ve followed in making these changes have been fidelity to Church law, teaching and tradition, and fidelity to what I believe the Lord has asked of me in prayer. My hope in making these changes has been to help you grow in holiness.
  • Specifically, I’ve hoped to increase your reverence and devotion to the Eucharist, and to increase your love and appreciation for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because this is the very heart of our beautiful Catholic faith.
  • It is through the Eucharist that we receive in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that our Lord gives Himself to us most profoundly. It is here that He gives us every grace we need to be saved. It is here that we are most closely united to Him.
  • As we honor our Lord tonight for the twin gifts of the Eucharist and the priesthood, let us show our gratitude by giving ourselves to Him whole-heartedly and without reserve.
  • Let us show our love for Jesus by always honoring the Eucharist and the priesthood, by which Christ is made present to us.

Copyright 2011 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

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