APRIL 1. HOLY WEEK. HOLY THURSDAY. JN. 13. 1-15
Updated: Aug 29
It was before the festival of the Passover, and Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father. He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was.
They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from table, removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘Never!’ said Peter ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus replied, ‘If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ said Simon Peter ‘not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!’ Jesus said, ‘No one who has taken a bath needs washing, he is clean all over. You too are clean, though not all of you are.’ He knew who was going to betray him, that was why he said, ‘though not all of you are.’
When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’ he said ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’
It is very easy to lose sight of the purpose of Christ becoming a man; - living with us for thirty-three years, and then dying on a Cross. It was to Redeem us, a fact I think we readily accept; - but it was also to Teach us and; - on Holy Thursday (and Good Friday) we are witnessing one of his most potent lessons; - That Love demands humility and self-sacrifice!
This key teaching, which is not easy to live out, involves putting the needs of others before our own needs and desires! Today and tomorrow Christ is focused solely on teaching us what is involved in his Great Commandment of Love; - and the fact it demands both humility and self-sacrifice; - a truth he bore witness to in a spectacular fashion by the washing of the feet!
Peter certainly had great difficulty understanding the lesson as is made known by his response; - ‘You shall never wash my feet’; - but Christ was insistent; - ‘If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me’; - making it very clear this lesson needed to be both understood and practiced if one was to be one of his followers.
And when he had finished washing the feet of his disciples Christ emphasised this lesson; - ‘Do you understand’ he said ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet; - I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’
And we must not overlook the other powerful lesson in Love, Humility and Self-sacrifice we were given on this night; - when Christ gave us the Sacrament of the Eucharist; - not only as a memorial of his imminent Sacrifice on the Cross; - but also as a means of remaining with us on earth; - in the form of nourishing food; - until the end of time.
The lessons of Holy Thursday; - Love Humility and Self-Sacrifice, are ones we need to live out!
Gospel Acclamation Jn13:34
Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.
Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
First reading Exodus 12:1-8,11-14 ·
The Passover is a day of festival for all generations, for ever
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:
‘This month is to be the first of all the others for you, the first month of your year. Speak to the whole community of Israel and say, “On the tenth day of this month each man must take an animal from the flock, one for each family: one animal for each household. If the household is too small to eat the animal, a man must join with his neighbour, the nearest to his house, as the number of persons requires. You must take into account what each can eat in deciding the number for the animal. It must be an animal without blemish, a male one year old; you may take it from either sheep or goats. You must keep it till the fourteenth day of the month when the whole assembly of the community of Israel shall slaughter it between the two evenings. Some of the blood must then be taken and put on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses where it is eaten. That night, the flesh is to be eaten, roasted over the fire; it must be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. You shall eat it like this: with a girdle round your waist, sandals on your feet, a staff in your hand. You shall eat it hastily: it is a passover in honour of the Lord. That night, I will go through the land of Egypt and strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, man and beast alike, and I shall deal out punishment to all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord! The blood shall serve to mark the houses that you live in. When I see the blood I will pass over you and you shall escape the destroying plague when I strike the land of Egypt. This day is to be a day of remembrance for you, and you must celebrate it as a feast in the Lord’s honour. For all generations you are to declare it a day of festival, for ever.”’