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Sunday:       Holy Thursday - Mass of the Lord's Supper.
Date:         April 13, 2017.
Year:         A
The readings: [Ex. 12:1-8, 11-14; 1 Cor. 11:23-26; Jn. 13:1-15]
The message:  Do this in remembrance of Me.
Prepared by:  Catholic Doors Ministry.
Total words:  1037

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** The readings follow the sermon.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, this evening's Mass of the Lord's Supper officially opens the Easter Triduum. In preparation for the commemoration of the glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus on Easter Sunday, we begin by recounting the New and last Covenant that the Lord Jesus has made with mankind.

The origin of the New Covenant is found in the instructions for the Passover meal in the Book of Exodus. [Ex. 12:1-8, 11-14] There, as a symbol of what was to come, God commanded Moses and his people to take a young one year old male lamb without blemish on the tenth day of April. On the fourteenth day, the whole congregation was to assemble and slaughter it at twilight. Then, they were to take the blood of the lamb and place it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they ate.

On that night, they were to eat the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Later that night, in judgment of the false gods of Egypt, the Lord would pass over the land and strike down the firstborn, both human beings and animals, proving that He is the Lord God. Those who's houses were marked by the blood of the lamb were protected from the judgment of God. That night, known as the Passover, came to pass and was remembered annually as a festival of the Lord.

In the event of the Passover, we see many images of what was to come. The young male lamb that was without blemish and that was to be sacrificed was a prophetic image of Jesus Who was also a male, Who was the Lamb of God, Who "knew no sin" [2 Cor. 5:21] and Who gave His life for our salvation, our life and our resurrection. The meal of the unleavened bread was symbolic of our participation in the Holy Mass at which time we receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that provides us with the necessary graces to maintain our righteousness before God. The blood on the frame of the doors was symbolic of those who are protected by the Blood of Christ because they walk their Christian lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

Two thousand years ago, in preparation for the Passover, Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples. During that event, there was no sacrifice of a young lamb because Jesus was the Lamb that was about to be sacrificed. At the Last Supper, the Lord Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and said, "This is My body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me." [1 Cor. 11:24] Then, he took the cup and said, "This cup is the New Covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." [1 Cor. 11:25] For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

The Words of Jesus during the Last Supper put an end to the imperfect Old Covenant of the Law that God the Father had made with the Jewish people. The Old Covenant foreshadowed the New Covenant of grace that was to come through the Son of God. Through the New Covenant, the once hidden prophetic images of the Passover came to their fulfillment.

The New Covenant of God with mankind opened the door to the Kingdom of Heaven to all those who have faith in Jesus Christ and receive the Sacrament of Baptism. [Jn. 3:5, 7] From the event of the Last Support, we learn that all believers are called to actively participate in the celebration of the Holy Mass and to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Communion in remembrance of Christ who died, doing so until the day that He returns.

During today's reading from the Gospel of John, [Jn. 13:1-15] we learned that to qualify to be called Christians, we must be humble. We must be ready to sacrifice our valuable time towards the needs of others. We must shine in love towards others as Jesus did when He have His life for us. We must serve others as Christ did when He humbled Himself to serve His disciples by washing their feet. Jesus' message to us today is that we should serve others as true loving Christians. It is not enough to hear or read about what we must do. Nor is it enough to say what we must do or that we intend on doing it. What is most important, we must do it!

Do you know that it is amazing how we change our ways of thinking as we grow older? Consider what Peter said to Jesus, "You will never wash my feet." [Jn. 13:8] Now, when thinking of little children and how they relate with those that they love and trust, surely they have no problem with allowing them to wash their feet. In fact, they might even enjoy it.

Then why is it that when little people become big people, suddenly, there is a change of attitude? They say, "There's no way you are going to wash my feet!" Is pride the obstacle to humility? Is it shame because they forgot to wash their feet on the previous night and they were not sure just how clean their feet were? No matter what the reason is, it is not important when it comes to inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven." [Mt 18:3] Unless we set aside our pride and our shame to become like little children, we will be denied the Kingdom of Heaven.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be servants of God, Christian servants who are not afraid to humble themselves in this world so that they may be elevated in the eternal Kingdom of God.

As we continue to participate in the celebration of the Holy Mass in commemoration of the Last Supper, let us ask the Lord for the virtue of humility so we may find it in our hearts to always humble ourselves towards our brothers and sisters in true Christlikeness.

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The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

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First Reading...

"The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbour in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it.

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the Passover of the Lord.

For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.

The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance." [Exo. 12:1-8, 11-4]

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Second Reading...

"Beloved: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'

In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." [1 Cor. 11:23-6]

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Gospel Reading...

"Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?' Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.' Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet.' Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.' Simon Peter said to him, 'Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!' Jesus said to him. 'One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.' For he knew who was to betray him: for this reason he said, 'Not all of you are clean.'

After he had washed their feet, put on his robe, and returned to the table. Jesus said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord - and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you." [Jn. 13:1-15]

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