Holy Thursday 2018
Matambura Ishmael, SJ.
Director, Centre Maisha-Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo
Holy Thursday begins Easter triduum with the institution of priesthood and Eucharist during the last Supper of Jesus with his disciples. The celebrations of this triduum remind us the call to freedom and life. The Synoptics, that is Mathew, Marc and Luke narrate what happened between Jesus and his disciples during this Passover meal. The first reading from the book of Exodus provide for details about instructions given by God to his people to celebrate Passover at their liberation from Egypt. This is the end of slavery and inauguration of a new life: life of freedom in God’s guidance. God who is love spares nothing to redeem humanity.
In the first reading from the book of Exodus chapter 12, we meditate on the ritual observed by Hebrew people in memory of this transit from slavery to the land of freedom, the Promised Land. Every year, family and neighbors would commemorate this Passover meal in memory of their deliverance from Egypt as a community celebration.
As a Jew, Jesus Christ celebrated Easter during Hebrew feast to make all people to celebrate their recovered freedom in him. However, we know that freedom is not acquired for good. It should be a matter of daily renewal conquest. Thus the call to conversion at the beginning and all along Lenten journey: “repent and believe the good news”. To benefit from it, one ought to walk with Christ. We have to fight together with him in order to be set free. It will never been a matter of settling for good in our situations, in our zone of convenience, either that is our faith or our sin. We are continually invited to allow Christ uproot us to enable us go deep and further. We are called to open ourselves to new challenges brought about through our brothers and sisters including through the gospel that Jesus preached.
As for the Hebrews, our Christian Passover is a community testimony. We are called to witness our faith in the world and in our life settings. Many of our brothers and sisters believe no more. Some have taken heed of indifference, individualism, human exploitation of the most vulnerable. All of us we need liberation. And the God that we celebrate is willing to liberate his people. He is the one to perform the first work in the heart of men and women. Should we open our hearts in order for him to enter and transform us for more freedom and make of us people of peace and justice. A generation that thinks and acts with love.
The second reading of this holy Thursday taken from first Corinthians, chapter eleven, reminds us in which conditions should the Passover meal, the meal of freedom, be celebrated. This letter was written for Christians undergoing crisis of divisions, jealousy and demeaning. Such practices in total contradiction to the Eucharist and the proclamation of Christ`s resurrection. Thus the urgency to get rid of such behavior in order to partake to the celebration. Without love, communion is pure hypocrisy.
In the gospel from chapter thirteen of St John, we are taught the ultimate meaning of the Eucharist celebration and communion. Jesus says : “there is no great love than to give own life for the ones beloved”. That love is to be translated in concrete and positive actions. Reading this gospel, we learn from Christ how to put love in action not only uttering mere good words. In other words, Jesus teaches us how to move from uttered love to love in action, lived and practiced. Elsewhere, St Paul affirms that great realizations are nothing without love: “I may do great things, even in the service of others, if lack me love, I am nothing”.
Today, we contemplate Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. This humble service was meant to be performed by slaves to their masters. In so doing, Jesus knows clearly what he is doing, but Peter cannot understand anything currently. It will take him to go through the experience of resurrection to come to understand. This holy Thursday, the washing of the feet is not but a simple sign of Christ`s love for his people. The ultimate proof of it will be provided through his death on the cross. The risen Lord confirms this love while washing away all of our sins by his blood through baptism. And that`s how he enables us to become partakers 0f his life in the Father.
The great message of this holy Thursday is that Jesus invites us to be his closer friends. It is worth to stop and explore to know his desires on us. He offers himself for our sake to communicate his life and his love to all of us. We become witnesses of this in our families, the places of our work, in our communities and gatherings. Jesus sacrificed his life for us and for the multitude. Our love is to reach his own love, being universal. This is the love that Christians celebrate in the Eucharist.
In contexts where HIV/AIDS continues to make ravages in families and communities, hundreds of thousands of children are left orphaned and rejected to our streets with no dream for life, the act of Jesus for his disciples should not leave us unresponsive. By washing his disciples feet, Jesus convey us to look at all these people and work to make love shine in their lives. To have the time and reach out to the many women infected with HIV/AIDS and rejected by husbands and family members. Ask for Jesus courage to be able to welcome these vulnerable people with compassion, to feed those who are hungry, to heal the wounds of those who are wounded, to comfort the those who are afflicted, to protect and care for those who are weakened and exploited. Jesus invites us to recover our primal blessing for every human being. His teachings and his deeds especially the washing of feet of his disciples invite us to fight tyranny that enslaves human beings instead of rising them.
Shall we pray that God gives us his eyes, his hands to see the World as He sees and to work it growth according to His will.
Click here for the French Version: Partage – Jeudi Sanit 2018