Holy Thursday begins the climax of the Liturgical Year which we call the Triduum. The word Triduum means three days. The Triduum begins with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and ends with Evening Prayer II of Easter Sunday. This is the time when we walk with with Christ in His death and resurrection. All the Church’s Masses and Liturgies during these three days focuses on the Paschal mystery. These celebrations are the most important celebrations in the Christian Churches in general for it is through Christ’s death and resurrection that we are able to call ourselves Christians.
Holy Thursday commemorates Christ’s institution of two Sacraments: the Sacrament of Holy Orders and the Sacrament of the Eucharist. These two Sacraments are connected to each other. St. John Paul said in his letter to priests on Holy Thursday 2004, “There can be no Eucharist without the priesthood, just as there can be no priesthood without the Eucharist.” Both the Eucharist and the priesthood are very important. Both of these sacraments accompany us through our journey of faith in one way or another. The day when we received our First Holy Communion, either as a child or an adult through the RCIA program, we have received Jesus. The Eucharist will (hopefully) be given to us again during the last moments of our life. The priestly ministry follows us as well. Either as a child or an adult in the RCIA program, the hands of the priest have baptized us and his mouth said the words, “I baptize you, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Towards the end of our life, the priest’s hands will anoint us with the oil of the sick and his mouth saying the last prayers. Therefore, both the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders that Jesus instituted this day are so important in our earthly journey of faith.
Besides the institution of the Eucharist and the priestly ministry, Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:34-35) In other words, Jesus gave us the commandment of LOVE. Jesus depicted this even further when he washed the feet of his disciples (cf. Jn 13:1-20). Love is depicted though everyday service. No matter how high rank you are in life, parent or child, prime minister or citizen, teacher or student, pastor or parishioner, both ways must serve and show love. Jesus’ whole ministry was about love and Jesus’ teachings lead us to see that God is indeed a loving and merciful Father and that God wants us to love one another. That image of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet is so beautiful. Imagine if everyone can “wash each other’s feet” in one way or another. Imagine all of us loving each other as brothers and sisters in a family! Pope Francis said something very similar in his general audience on June 12, 2013, “How beautiful it is to love one another as true brothers and sisters. How beautiful! Let’s do something today!” The commandment of love should be lived in our everyday lives, starting in our own families.
We pray that we be people of the Eucharist, living out the virtue of love. We also pray for our bishops and priests that they may be faithful in their priestly mission.