Mass of the Lord’s Supper 2021

            At the command of today’s first reading from the book of Exodus, ever year, the Jewish people gather together during the Passover celebrations to share in the Seder meal, which commemorates the deliverance of their ancestors from slavery in Egypt and eventual freedom in the Promised Land during the days of Moses. It was in the midst of that celebration that Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread and gave it to His disciples saying “this is my body that is for you, do this in remembrance of me.”[1] Tonight then, we gather together to commemorate that night, nearly 2,000 years ago, when Jesus took the bread and wine and gave it to His disciples  telling them “this is my body … this is my blood,”[2] while giving them a command to “do this in memory of me.”[3]

            Tonight, in our second reading, St. Paul recalls how the miracle of that Passover meal that Jesus celebrated with His apostles on the night that He was betrayed is handed on from generation to generation down to today. You know we can quibble about the finer points of theology, but all Christians have to agree that Jesus tells the truth. Jesus says the bread and wine are His body and blood, so who are we to question it? We also hear how Jesus left us a command to do this in remembrance of Him, so how could we dare refuse that command?

            Those of us gathered here may ask how anyone could dare refuse this command, but a Gallup poll released just 3 days ago showed that only 47% of Americans say they belong to a church, synagogue or mosque.[4] For the first time in our nation’s history more Americans don’t belong to a church than do belong and this isn’t just a national problem. No, Archdiocesan statistics reveal that only about 30% of St. Theodore parishioners attend church every week. Yes, that is right, only about 1/3 of our parishioners follow this simple command of Christ “do this in remembrance of me.”

            So, what are we to do? Well Jesus show us in today’s gospel, when He took a basin and towel and kneeling before His disciples washed their feet, before telling them “I have given you a model to follow so that as I have done for you, you also should do.”[5] Since “charity is the experience of God and an extension of Christ’s presence in the world,”[6] you and I who receive Jesus in the Eucharist must take Him with us from this church out into the world through our service. The world should be able to look at the way we live our lives and know that we are Catholic.

            Tonight, as millions gather around the world to commemorate the institution of the Eucharist, we recall that Jesus started with just 12 apostles in the upper room. These men did not keep the treasure of the Eucharist to themselves. No, they heard Jesus command and went to the four corners of the world to do this in remembrance of Him. As these apostles went out, people witnessed their service and were drawn through that service to Jesus truly present in the Eucharist. After all, “charity is the fulfillment of communion with Christ.”[7]

            My friends, “charity is service to man, but it is not possible to serve mankind without telling people about God.”[8] So tonight, as we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist, we as a parish are called to move from maintenance to mission. We must receive our nourishment in the Eucharist and then go out and through the witness of our lives lead others to receive their nourishment in the Eucharist. Each of us is called not just to be a disciple but to become a disciple maker.

            So tonight, as we prepare to enter into the Garden of Gethsemane, to keep watch with Jesus, I think we need to first stop and recall how we become disciples and give thanks to God for those disciple makers who have led us to the Eucharist. Then, let us resolve to move beyond ourselves and become disciple makers. Jesus has given us the command to serve others, so how and who are you going to invite to “do this in memory of Him?”


[1] 1 Cor 11:24

[2] Luke 22:19-20

[3] Luke 22:19

[4] Jeffrey M Jones. US Church Membership Falls Below Majority for the First Time. Available at https://news.gallup.com/poll/341963/church-membership-falls-below-majority-first-time.aspx

[5] John 13:15)

[6] Robert Cardinal Sarah. God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Dias San Francisco: Ignatius (2015) Pg 78.

[7] Garrigou-LeGrange, Reginald O.P. Everlasting Life. Rockford: Tan Publishing.(1952). Pg 83.

[8] Robert Cardinal Sarah. God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Dias San Francisco: Ignatius (2015) Pg 78.

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