Mass of the Lord’s Supper 2022

On this night over 2,000 years ago, the apostles gathered one last time with Jesus to celebrate the Passover meal, the annual Jewish celebration which recalls the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Every year the Jewish people gather together to tell the saving story we heard in our first reading. They gather, to memorialize that great saving moment in human history when God led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and into the desert to wonder towards freedom in the promised land of Canaan. No matter where the Jewish people find themselves, in good times and in bad times, each year they leave the concerns of the world behind and gather to celebrate the familiar routine of Passover. 

The Passover meal that we gather to commemorate tonight, though is unlike any other, for the Passover meal we hear about in tonight’s gospel is not just a memorial of how God saved the Israelites from slavery to the Egyptians but rather the start of an hours long journey of God saving humanity from slavery to sin and freeing us to journey towards the promised land of heaven. For you see, just as God commanded the Israelites in today’s first reading to celebrate Passover year after year, He also left us a command at His Last Passover with His disciples to do this in remembrance of Him.

So tonight, as we gather with Christ in the upper room, we follow that command to do this in remembrance of Him. Yet, it’s interesting that while St. Paul, in our second reading, recalls the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, our gospel focuses not on the Eucharist, but rather Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. This act of humility by Jesus is a powerful drama representing the power of love. The same love that will compel Jesus in just a few hours to stretch out His hands on the cross. The washing of the feet then is tied to Jesus greatest act of love, the offering of Himself on the cross; the same act that is represented every time we gather around this altar to celebrate the Holy Mass which He instituted on this night.

The question before us tonight, as we gather with Jesus in the upper room, is if we will let Jesus love us? Recall how Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet. It is certainly understandable as to why Peter would not want the Master doing the servants’ work of washing His feet, but Jesus insists. He insists because He loves us, not because we deserve it. He loves us because we need loving. Likewise, He gives us the command to do this in remembrance of Him, not because we deserve it, but because He loves us and recalling His own teaching “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you cannot have eternal life,”[1] He insists that we gather every Sunday to eat His flesh and drink His blood. 

So, as we gather and celebrate the Eucharist, I think each of us needs to step back and ask if we will be like Peter and refuse Jesus’ love or if we will have the humility to allow Jesus to love us, in the way He wants to love us, by offering His life for us. If we want to honestly answer that question, all we have to do is stop and reflect on how faithful we have been in carrying out Jesus’ command to “do this in memory of me” by attending Sunday Mass. For how are we any better than Peter denying Jesus love at the washing of the feet, if we refuse to partake in the saving action He tells us to do in memory of Him?

At the end of the Mass, we will process with Jesus out to the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus will ask His disciples if they can spend one hour with Him. Jesus wants to love them, but they all fall asleep. Well tonight is the opportunity to awake from our slumber and to allow God to love us by committing to carry out this command to “do this in memory of me.” As we receive the nourishment we need to journey with Christ to the cross tomorrow and on through His resurrection on Sunday, we have to acknowledge that God has done the hard work; He loves us unconditionally. All that is left is for us is to allow Him to love us on His terms by following that command “do this in memory of me.

[1] John 6:53

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