Holy Thursday — The Last Supper Readings & Commentary

Mass Readings:

Exodus 12:1-8,11-14

Ps 116  — Our Blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

— For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes (v. 26).

John 13:1-15

— The washing of the disciples feet.

— Peter’s denial of having his feet washed, then wanting his whole body to be washed.

— “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (v. 15).

Lent Reflections by Bousset:

  • Jesus leaves nothing to be interpreted or commented upon. What simplicity! What precision in these words! What force do these words have!
  • If Jesus had wanted to give us a sign, a mere resemblance, he would shave known how to tell us. Ex: “Gen 17:11 you shall be circumcised in the flesh” similar to Eucharist. When he proposed metaphors, he known quite well how to adapt his language so as to be understood without doubt (“I am the door…”)

Life of Christ by Fulton J. Sheen:

The Last Supper Ch. 37:

  • Unlike all others, our Blessed Lord came into this world to die. Since our Divine Lord came to die, it was fitting that there be a Memorial of His death! The Memorial of a New Covenant.
  • A Covenant or Testament is an agreement or compact or alliance, and in Scripture it means one between God and man.
  • The Old Covenant through Moses as the mediator was sealed with blood (blood is a sign of life)
  • The Lamb was a Passover of the destroying angel, that is, a “pass” which secured safety.
  • Jeremiah 31:33 — the promise of a new covenant b/c the Israelites broke the Covenant.
  • As Moses ratified the Old Testament with the blood of animals, so Christ now ratified the New Testament with His own Blood, He Who is the true Paschal Lamb. The whole Moasic and pre-Messianic system of sacrifice was thus superseded and fulfilled.
  • Our Lord was both Priest and Victim.
  • Why did Our Blessed Lord use bread and wine as the elements of this Memorial? No two substances in nature: 1. better symbolize unity than bread and wine. 2. have to suffer more to become what they are than bread and wine. 3. have more traditionally nourished man than bread and wine.
  • Whenever that sacrifice of Christ is memorialized in the Church, there is an application to a new moment in time and a new presence in space of the unique sacrifice of Christ Who is now in glory.
  • Our Lord never told anyone to write about His Redemption, but He did tell His Apostles to renew it, apply it, commemorate it, prolong it by obeying His orders given at the Last Supper.

The Servant of the Servants Ch. 38:

  • Within a brief span of 5 days there took place two of the most famous feet washings in history.
  • The hour of departure is always an hour of quickened affection… this hour he called them His “Own”
  • Parallel shown between the 7 distinct actions mentioned & a summary of His Incarnation.
  • Peter = the hardest lesson for this self-confident man to learn was that he still had something to learn. Peter before had rebuked the Cross; now he rubbed the example of humiliation that led to the Cross.
  • Why object to the Son of God made man washing external dirt from feet, when He Who is God had already humbled Himself in order to wash foulness from souls?

The Divine Lover’s Farewell Ch. 39:

  • All through His life He had been trying to communicate His love for mankind, but it was not until His Body, like the alabaster box, would be broken, that the perfume of His love would pervade the universe.
  • Later on, the Apostles would follow Him, but first they needed the schooling of Calvary and of Pentecost.
  • Joy — He talked of joy, within a few hours of the kiss of Judas; but the joy He expressed was not in the prospect of suffering, but rather the joy of making an absolute and complete submission in love to His Father for the sake of mankind. Just as there is a kind of joy in giving a precious gift to a friend, so there is a joy in giving one’s life for humanity —> the unhappy apostles would discover this joy after Pentecost when they suffered before the same council which condemned Christ (Acts 5:41).
  • Love — In addition to joy, a second effect of union with Him would be love (John 15:13). There are to be no limits to our mutual love, for we must all ask ourselves, what was the limit of His love? He had no limit, for He came to lay down His life. Only through death for others could He show love. To die upon the Cross without a pitying eye, to be surrounded by a multitude who mocked Him, and to die without being obliged to die — such was the peak of love.
  • The hatred of the world — The Beatitudes set Him in immediate opposition to the world, and therefore prepared for His Cross. Now He warned them that they too would have a Cross, if they were really His disciples. To have no Cross would make one suspect of lacking the indelible brand of being one of His own — “because i have singled you out from the midst of the world, that the world hates you” (John 15:18-19, James 4:4, 1 John 2:15). The world loves the worldly; but to preserve its codes, practices, and mental fashions, it must hate the unworldly or the Divine. Evil has no capital of its own, it is a parasite on goodness. No one hates Buddha; he is dead. But hatred against Christ would live on, because He lives.
  • The Spirit — Just as the shedding of the blood was for the sinful; so the gift of the Spirit was for His obedient and loving followers. When Christ’s Passion began, He spoke most profoundly of the Spirit. The grief of His chosen ones would be transitory; for the Cross must come before the crown. The Divine secret that He gave was that their loss would now have the greater blessing of the coming of the Spirit. If He remained among them, He would have been only an example to be copied; if He left and sent the Spirit, He would be a veritable life to be lived (cf. John 16:7). There would be a twofold glorification of Himself; the one by the Father; the other by the Spirit; the one would take place in heaven, the other on earth. By the one, He is glorified in God Himself, and by the other, He is glorified in all who believe in Him (john 16:14-15). Obedience was described as the necessary condition of receiving the Spirit. As a light shone on the Old Testament through the coming of Christ, so a light would shine on the life of Christ through the Spirit.
  • The Threefold Mission of the Spirit — one of convicting and proving the world wrong in three areas (John 16:8-9):
  • 1. the world’s view of sin —  Sin, in its fullness, is the rejection of Christ. Nothing but the Spirit could convince man of sin. * The crucifix is an autobiography in which man can read the story of his own life, either to his own salvation or his own condemnation.
  • 2. the world’s view of righteousness — Just as Good Friday seemed to ascribe sin to Christ and righteousness to His judges, so Pentecost would assign righteousness to the Crucified and sin to his judges.
  • 3. the world’s view of judgment — When sin and righteous collide, there will be judgment in which sin will be destroyed.

Other resources:

Holy Thursday – The Eucharist: The Body of Christ? by Marcellino D’Ambrosio, PhD

THE FOURTH CUP – The Sacrament of the Eucharist by Scott Hahn 

Jesus Washed Judas’s Feet by  Father John Hollowell

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