Jesus humbled Himself to show what is expected to follow Him
Reflections on the readings for Holy Thursday – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Passion (April 1, 2021): EX 12:1-8,11-14; PS 116:12-13,15-16,17-18; 1 COR 11:23-26; JN 13:1-15
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
"Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.”(John 13:1-5)
The beautiful liturgy for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper that we celebrate on this Holy Thursday includes the account of His Last Supper with the Apostles taken from the Gospel according to St. John. “Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that His hour had come to pass from this world to the Father.… So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into His power and that He had come from God and was returning to God, He rose from supper and took off His outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around His wait. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet” (John 13:1-5). In St. John’s account, unlike the other Gospels, we do not hear about the bread of life and the cup of salvation in the institution of the Eucharist. Instead, he tells us about another vital element in the sacrifice of Jesus’ body and blood that would be fully realized in his death the next day – His humility.
Our Lord needed the Apostles and all His followers to realize that He was giving everything He had for our salvation. Washing the feet of guests at a meal was left to servants, slaves. But Christ did not hesitate even though He was master and teacher. He humbled Himself because they had to understand that He expected the same from them. We, too, have to accept that this action was not merely a symbol of service. It was a sign of the commitment that we must make if we are truly Jesus’ disciples. Those who take the way of Christ take the way of the cross. On Holy Thursday, He models for us that we must be the servants of all in living out His message of love and forgiveness. And, just as we must witness courageously to the Son of God and Redeemer of the world, we must be willing to let the world laugh at us, ignore us, even condemn us to death, if that is what is takes to imitate Jesus in doing the will of the Father. Few of us as asked to become martyrs for our faith, but we must accept the little everyday crosses that come along in the life of every person who follows Christ.