1st Reading: Ex 12:1-8. 11-14; Psalm: 116. R. v. 1Cor 10:16; 2nd Reading: 1Cor 11:23-26; Gospel: Jn 13:1-15



The Last Supper of Our Lord - eCommunicator

Maundy or Holy Thursday which is also known as the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is a significant celebration in the Church that commemorates three anniversaries; namely: The institution of the Holy Eucharist, the Ministerial Priesthood, and the New Commandment of Love. These celebrations take its origin from the story of Israel’s liberation from Egypt and culminated in Jesus Christ. We shall see how this progression happened and the significant changes therein. 


Four hundred years of slavery and hard labour in Egypt was a very long time for the Israelites. On the eve of their final departure from Egypt as recounted in the first reading of today, the Lord instructed each household to kill a lamb and smear the blood on their doorposts. On that night, the Lord passed through the land of Egypt and struck all their first-born but ‘Passed Over’ the houses of the Israelites and spared them. This significant event led to the annual celebration of the ‘Passover Feast’ by the Israelites to commemorate how God spared them and their subsequent exodus from Egypt.   

This Passover feast continued for years. Part of the rites of this celebration was the practice whereby by procession, the High Priest carries the unblemished lamb to be slaughtered to the altar of sacrifice. Jesus would do the same by processing into Jerusalem (where he would be killed) presenting himself as the New Paschal Lamb to be sacrificed. Recall that this happened on Palm Sunday.  

During the Passover meal, the Israelites would eat the slaughtered roasted lamb, among other things, with unleavened bread and wine. It was at the exact date and time of this feast that Jesus celebrated the Eucharistic meal with his apostles where he presented his body under the appearance of bread, in place of the unleavened bread. And his blood under the appearance of wine, in place of the Passover wine. By this solemn action, Jesus instituted a new meal: the Eucharistic meal. So while the Passover meal celebrates Israel’s freedom from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land, the Eucharistic meal celebrates our freedom from sin to the Eternal Life of Heaven.


There was that necessity to carry on this new meal instituted by Jesus Christ. The apostles of Jesus would therefore have to abandon that old practice of annually celebrating the Feast of the Passover and begin to celebrate this new Eucharistic meal. And this time around, not annually but often. Jesus gave his apostles the authority to do this when he gave the command: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19). By this command of Jesus, the Ministerial Priesthood was instituted.

It was of the transmission of this celebration that St Paul recounted in the second reading of today stating that the tradition he received from the Lord was what he was passing on to the community of believers in Corinth. Today, this tradition of celebrating the Eucharistic meal is sustained by the gift of the Ministerial Priesthood to the Church.


The washing of the apostle’s feet was a sign of love and service. By this action, Jesus taught them to love and serve one another just as he did to them (Jn 13:34). Jesus’ subsequent gift of the Eucharist to the apostles will strengthen this bond of love. The Eucharist therefore bonds us with Christ and with one another. This is why it is also called a communion of love.

To understand this meal as a communion of love, we can revert to the feeding of the five thousand (Mt 14:13-21) which prefigured the Eucharist. In this miracle, we see a meal given in love. We see the God who loves us so much that he cannot leave us to suffer hunger and weariness and so nourished us out of love. This reveals why the Eucharist is a sacrament of love because through the gift of his body, Christ saved us from spiritual starvation and created an indivisible bond between us and him; that kind of bond that a lover has for the one he loves. How else can God prove his love for us if not through his ever presence with us in the Holy Eucharist to sustain us in our spiritual journey?

This bond with God is to make us become like God so as to love like God. So as we share this oneness with Christ in the Eucharist, we are being transformed to become bread broken for the lives of others. And we can only do this through the sacrifice of love and service.

At this Mass of the Lord’s Supper, this sacred Eucharistic meal will be celebrated in obedience to the Lord’s command: “Do this in memory of me.” As we step forward to share in this meal, let us remember that it is a meal of salvation from sin to a life of holiness. What this means is that Christ invites us to share in his life of holiness through this communion with him. Therefore, we are called to become who we receive and by this emulate Christ through love and service to one another.  This is the new person we should become as we depart this Eucharistic celebration.


Eucharistic Jesus, as we receive you worthily may our love for you and for one another be strengthened more and more. Amen.

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