Immersed in Christ: Holy Thursday: April 1, 2021
The Responsorial (Psalm 116 and 1 Corinthians 10:16) instructs us to respond to God through celebration: "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?" A key element in discipleship is to participate fully, actively and consciously in the liturgical celebrations that bring home to us the reality and meaning of the events they recall. To celebrate adds physical, communal and affective dimensions to truths that otherwise might remain abstract.
Exodus 12: 1-14 prescribes a celebration to mark the night God delivered his people from Egypt. The Jews were to sacrifice a lamb and put its blood on their houses as a sign to God to "pass over” their houses when he struck down all the firstborn of Egypt. This initiated the annual Passover celebration, when every Jewish family ate the "paschal lamb" to embed deeply in their hearts the fact and implications of God's saving action in their history. Christians continue this custom in the celebration of the "Easter Triduum" - Thursday, Fri- day and Saturday/Sunday of Holy Week. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus at Passover time revealed him as the true "Lamb of God" whose blood saves all humanity. We celebrate to absorb this mystery.
1 Corinthians 11: 23-26 holds up to us the mystery of the Mass. Eucharist makes present, not just the static body of Jesus on the altar, but the actual event, the action of Christ's sacrificial death on Calvary and his resurrection. In Eucharist Jesus becomes present in the act of offering himself for us on the cross. That sacrifice is never repeated, but it is made present every time Mass is celebrated. And when this happens, all who are at Mass are present at the sacrifice of Jesus, just as truly as if they were physically standing under the cross on Calvary. Eucharist allows us to join in Christ's offering of himself on the cross and to offer ourselves with him. Eucharist is not something we watch; it is something we do: "Do this in remembrance of me." In doing we absorb.
John 13: 1-5 shows Jesus teaching by a ritualistic gesture the lesson we learn from Calvary: "As I have done for you, you also should do." With him we are to "offer our bodies as a living sacrifice," our "flesh for the life of the world." On a daily basis this takes place in ministering to others, making ourselves the servants of all, using our bodies to make life a little easier for others, to communicate to them our love and God's indistinguishably blended in our graced actions. This is our sharing in the blood of Christ made visible.