Thursday, March 24, 2016

March 24, 2016: Holy Thursday C

March 24, 2016: Holy Thursday C
For most of us, the word ‘servant’ is not a familiar term, for we may not have employed servants in our household when we were growing up. Perhaps we can identify with being a servant when we think of menial tasks that we do for others that we do for little or no pay. For example, parents, how many of you get paid for changing diapers, bathing the little ones, cleaning the mess after children leave the dinner table, and waiting in carpool line? Grandparents, how many of you get paid to drop everything, change your weekend plans, and babysit your grandchild at a moment’s notice? There is no task that is considered beneath our dignity when a loved one is involved.

On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus was at table with the disciples celebrating the feast of Passover. Then he did something unexpected by taking on the role of a servant as he wrapped a towel around his waist, took a pitcher of water, and began to wash the feet of his disciples. The gesture of a servant’s task affirmed what Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends... I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

What Jesus did at the Last Supper and later at Calvary should humble us. We who are weak and prone to sin are good at pointing out the faults others yet spiritually blind when it comes to our own sins. Also, how poorly we love! We are so impatient and angry with others when we don’t get our way. Even more humbling is when we realize that we don’t love God as He loves us. Compared to God’s love for us, our love for Him is not even a drop of dew lost in the ocean. Yet how are we to fulfill the impossible request from Jesus, to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”(Matt 5:48)? Jesus provided for us a way to return infinite love of the Heavenly Father, through himself when he instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.

We bring to the sacrifice of mass our meager offering of sacrifice, and Jesus takes them in himself and offers Himself to the Father. At the Mass, Jesus is giving himself, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, into our hands: literally, in the hands of the priest, and spiritually, in the hands of all the lay faithful who unite their own sacrifices to the offering of the priest at the altar. Then, together, each in his own way, we offer Jesus’ infinite sacrifice of love to the Father and ourselves along with it. That’s the moment when Jesus’ sacrifice becomes our sacrifice, when Jesus’ love becomes our love, when Jesus’ offering of himself becomes our offering of ourselves. So, in that moment, we love God perfectly with his own divine love.

Jesus’ life is a feast for the poor and for sinners, and it must be the same for all of us who receive the Lord’s body and blood. As we receive His body and blood in the Eucharist, Jesus instructs that we must live out what we received. “I have given you an example: as I have done you should do. Blessed are you if you behave accordingly.” Humble service should characterize all of us who identify themselves as Christians. This is how we as Christians should be recognized in the here and now. “Love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”