"Let us live Lent, then, as a 'Eucharistic' time in which, welcoming the love of Jesus, we learn to spread it around us with every word and deed."
—Pope Benedict XVI
On Holy Thursday we celebrate the institution of the "source and summit" of our Catholic Faith: the Holy Eucharist. On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus celebrated his final Passover meal with His disciples:
"While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, 'Take and eat; this is my body.' Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.'" (Matthew 26:26-28).
As we reflect on today's Gospel, let us ask for the grace we need to believe, in ever-deepening ways, Christ's real presence in the Eucharist, and to approach the altar with reverence and awe.
GOSPEL READING FOR THURSDAY OF HOLY WEEK
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him.
And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
PASSION MEDITATION FROM ST. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI
“St. John Chrysostom says that the principal end Jesus had in his Passion was to discover to us his love, and thus to draw our hearts to himself by the remembrance of the pains that he has endured for us: 'This was the principal cause of the Passion of our Lord; he wished it to be known how great was the love of God for man, —of God, who would rather be loved than feared.’ St. Thomas adds that we may, through the Passion of Jesus, know the greatness of the love that God bears to man: ‘By this man understands the greatness of the love of God to man.’
And St. John has said before, in this we have known the charity of God, because He hath laid down his life for us. O my Jesus, Immaculate Lamb sacrificed on the cross for me! Let not all that Thou hast suffered for me be lost, but accomplish in me the object of Thy great sufferings! Oh, bind me entirely with the sweet chains of Thy love, in order that I may not leave Thee, and that I may never more be separated from Thee: ‘Most sweet Jesus, suffer me not to be separated from Thee; suffer me not to be separated from Thee.’”
This article has been updated. It was originally published in April 2012. © The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.