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His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Chief Celebrant at the Maundy Thursday Service, Cathedral of the Holy Name, sent out this message in his homily, as he spoke of the Memorial instituted by Jesus - the memorial of His Passion, Death and Resurrection:

Memorials are usually established after death, but Jesus’ memorial is unique in that He established it before He died, communicating His final message to the disciples. This was because of the importance of the message which was to be perpetuated for all time: ‘Do this in memory of me’ – the sharing of His body and blood through bread and wine. 

In the readings, we listen to the story of the first Passover, the liberation of the Jewish people, and, in his letter, St Paul tells us exactly what Jesus did and we hear the words that we celebrate at every Eucharist: ‘Take eat, this is my body…this is the chalice of my blood…’.  Jesus not only established this memorial of His death, but He also chose the ones who would carry it forward – He instituted the priesthood.  While the disciples did not understand this completely at the time, they came to realise that all this was truly part of God’s plan. 

In the beautiful Gospel passage, we hear of how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples.  This was the action of a slave, a servant. This was the true test of discipleship, to ‘love one another as I have loved you’.  And this is why the Church repeats this action in the washing of the feet every Maundy Thursday as a reminder to all of us. This is the message that has echoed across the centuries that we, who are disciples of Jesus, are called to wash to the feet of those around us, symbolising our commitment to love and service. 

We have come through the season of Lent when we prayed, made penance and did charitable work. His Eminence wished that this would become our ‘second nature’, the witnessing that we give of our faith, our discipleship.  He invited all to enter even more deeply into the mysteries of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, as we move forward to Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

His Eminence also asked for prayers for all those called to the priesthood that they may be true to their commitment to spend themselves in service and to love as Jesus loved.


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