« Whenever there is suffering in the body, wherever members of that body are in need or oppressed, we must feel concerned because we have received the same body and we are part of it. We have no right to despise a brother or to tell him; “I don’t need you, I don’t want to help you »
We take this Holy Thursday to congratulate all priests on this special day when Jesus Christ constitutes the Eucharist by which they identify with him. It is a unique privilege granted to a simple human being to offer to the Father his Son for the salvation of the world.
We choose two biblical texts for our reflection. First that of Isaiah 61:1-2 that Jesus quoted in the Gospel according to St. Luke 4:16-21 during the Chrism Mass; then that of the Eucharistic discourse of Jesus in John 6:53-54.
Isaiah 6:1-2 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has consecrated me by anointing. He sent me: to bring the Good News to the poor, to announce to the captives their liberation, and to the blind that they will regain their sight, to set the oppressed free, to announce a favorable year granted by the Lord”. Jesus recognizes himself in this proclamation of the prophet Isaiah which is written VIII centuries earlier. It is the announcement of the arrival of a savior in the context of a people in desolation.
This context constitutes “the composition of place” in the language of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. By this expression we mean the objective look at reality by the imagination before carrying it in meditation and prayer. This reality in our current context is “a beautiful but suffering world” according to our prayer for the Ignatian year. A world that needs the anointed of the Lord like Christ to comfort the unfortunate and excluded evoked by the second of the universal apostolic preferences of the Society of Jesus; true evangelizers, bearers of hope who ” rediscover and increase the fervor, the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow… May the world of our time, which seeks, sometimes in anguish, sometimes in hope, receive the Good News, not from sad and discouraged evangelizers, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives radiate with fervor, who first received in them the joy of Christ .»
Seeing a disturbing part of our reality such as AIDS, COVID19, malaria, terrorism, the war in Ukraine… in whom many of our brothers and sisters suffer and die, we do not have the right to be discouraged but to show compassion and to always bear witness to hope, in short to bear the Good News..
This Good News always goes hand in hand with the Eucharist, which marks the ultimate salvation by evoking the death and resurrection of Christ. It is no longer evil, death that will have the last word but life, resurrection. In his Eucharistic discourse Jesus proclaimed: “Amen, amen, I tell you: if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man, and if you do not drink his blood, you do not have life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life; and I will resurrect him on the last day” John 6:53-54.
One of the main messages in the institution of the Eucharist is: “Koinonia”, communion. The Eucharist unites us with God, with Jesus and with all human beings. A communion that our future Blessed Pedro Arrupe showed us how to live it: “Whenever there is suffering in the body, wherever members of this body are in need or oppressed, we must feel concerned because we have received the same body and we are part of it. We have no right to despise a brother or to tell him; “I don’t need you, I don’t want to help you »
This communion extends to the whole of creation in the perspective of “Laudato si:” “The Eucharist unites heaven and earth, it embraces and penetrates all creation. The world that comes from the hands of God returns to him in joyful and full adoration: in the Eucharistic Bread, “creation is stretched towards divinization, towards holy marriages, towards unification with the Creator himself».
Our world needs more than ever solidarity, compassion, self-giving, courage, hope etc. in other words evangelization whose resource is drawn from the Eucharist.
May the celebration of this Holy Thursday 2022 revive our identity as the Lord’s anointed to bring the Good News to our world today.
Santa Claus Cyprien Médard RAZAFINANDRAINA
Director, Centre Arrupe, Madagascar