HOLY THURSDAY

LEST YOU FORGET WHO YOU ARE

“Do this in memory of Me.”

Every people have a history. Every family have a treasured past. Every person has a story. Something they treasure which reminds them of something about them as a people, a family and a person; some memorials that recall their history. The British War Museum and the National Gallery, among so many others, tell the story of the struggles of Britain as a nation and of the English people, but more than that they are veritable monuments that connect the future generation to their past: their struggles, developments or evolutions and achievements, lest they forget who they are. These memorials and monuments are constant reminders to the next generation so that they never forget who they are and where they have come from. Tonight we celebrate our memorial as Christians – The Lord’s Last Supper. Lest we forget

In the First Reading (Exodus 12: 1-8, 11-14) God instructs Moses on the celebration of the memorial of the Passover: “… it is a Passover in honour of the Lord … This day is to be a day of remembrance for you, and you must celebrate it as a feast in the Lord’s honour. For all generations you are to declare a day of festival, forever.” This was a memorial which the Jewish people had to celebrate every year to recall how God saved them from slavery in Egypt, constituted them as a people, formed them as a nation, made them His own people and He their God. In this way they were to be constantly reminded, year in year out of their history, lest they forget who they are.

In the Second Reading (1 Corinthians 11: 23-26) St. Paul tells us about the institution of the new memorial, the memorial of the New Covenant. Here we learn how to commemorate our deliverance from slavery of sin and death to a new life of grace through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the context of the Passover, the Lord Jesus took bread and said “This is My Body.” And similarly, He took the cup and said “This is My Blood, the Blood of the New Covenant.” Then He commanded: “Do this as a memorial of Me.” Lest you forget who you are – a people loved and redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb.  

Dear friends, unlike the Passover, the Eucharist is not just a remembrance. It is a continuation of our salvation; it is our participation in the mystery of our redemption. This is what our liturgical celebrations mean that when the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the “fount and summit” of our worship, our redemption is made present. For as it were Christ is sacramentally and physically present in the Eucharist every time it is celebrated. Remember He said: “This is My Body. This is My Blood.” And then commanded us: “Do this in memory of Me.”

Jesus knew it would be all too easy for us to forget Him especially in our world of today, where a huge indifference has enveloped us and many hearts have become cold to the things of God. Jesus knew it would be easy for us forget His love for us when things do not work out for us the way we would like them to. In our world ravaged by wars and conflicts; discriminations and divisions; injustices and inequalities; displacements and abandonment; Jesus knew it would be all to easy for us to forget Him. And so He commands us: “Do this as a memorial of Me”, lest you forget who you are – a people redeemed by his Blood.

Tonight as we reenact one of Jesus’ many humbling actions – the Washing of the Feet of His disciples. The act of washing of the feet was the duty of a slave or servant at the time of Jesus. Think of the dust on the roads at the time of Jesus; remember that there were no shoes to cover the feet. So they were really dirty and filthy. Here Jesus lived out His teaching: “The greatest among you must be your servant.” “I have come, not to be served but to serve” This was more than an act of serving; it was a profound expression of His love for us. That He will accept us in our dirt and filth and wash us clean with His Blood so that we become more like Him. Whose feet are we called to wash? In what ways can we stoop down to express our love for God through our neighbours? This is what we are called to do lest we forget who we are.

 As we adore the Lord in the Blessed Eucharist tonight, let the words of the ancient Catholic Prayer – O Sacrament most holy; O sacrament divine. All praise and all thanksgiving, be every moment Thine – echo in our hearts to arouse a deeper love for Him who shed His Blood for us. This way we will always remember who we are – a people redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb.