The Eucharist in action
The turning point in my understanding of Holy Thursday was understanding that while the Synoptic Gospels describe the Last Supper as celebrating Passover, St. John writes about the events before Passover (which will be crucial tomorrow) and in the place where the Eucharist is instituted, he shows us Jesus leaving the table and washing the disciples’ feet.
These two realities must complement each other like two wings without which you cannot fly. Jesus gives us his Body, which strengthens, nourishes and purifies us, but also obliges us to share Him with others. The Eucharist must be implemented in service to our brothers and sisters.
I am incredibly humbled by the thought that Almighty God kneels before me like a slave to once again wash my feet, which I have previously covered in mud myself, while I so often do not have time, courage, inner freedom and humility to stop and focus on my neighbor…
Holy Thursday ends with one of the most important moments in Jesus’ earthly life in my opinion – the prayer in Gethsemane. Once I realized that this is really the most difficult moment of the passion, because God who became man, although He was completely obedient to the will of the Father, He experiences moments of spiritual struggle so dramatic that he sweated blood. After that, there will only be torture of the body and physical pain – nothing compared to the paralyzing fear. Jesus is victorious in the dark of night, surrounded by the Apostles who are dozing off, without witnesses or crowds. It is at this point that He makes his final free decision that He gives his life for the salvation of the world. Without this decision, Jesus would have been just savagely murdered although it would have looked exactly the same.
Whenever I think about this scene, I remember how fundamental my motivation, intentions and attitude are in what I do. I can do exactly the same tasks with and without love. Regardless of whether I am humanly successful or unsuccessful, the most important thing is what happens in my heart. It is also there that I experience the greatest struggle, the greatest suffering and the greatest joy of victory.
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which begins the period of the Holy Paschal Triduum, has many beautiful elements, such as the already mentioned washing of the feet or the silence of the organs. But what always impressed me the most was the ending itself. It is worth noting that this Mass does not end with a blessing, it is interrupted and waits for its continuation in the following days of the Triduum. However, it should end with a gesture that, for practical reasons, we very rarely see in our parishes – tearing the tablecloth off the altar. This is to symbolize the stripping of Jesus’ clothes and leaving Him by his loved ones. Before this naked altar tomorrow, on behalf of all of us, the priest will fall on his face to show our helplessness against evil and suffering and to stand in truth of our human condition. The Blessed Sacrament is moved to the darkroom and the Tabernacle will be opened and left empty. “Get up, let us go. See, my betrayer is at hand” (Mark 14:42)
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