Holy Thursday - April 05, 2012

“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.”  This beautiful line from the Gospel brings us right into the Heart of God’s own Love story.  At the Last Supper, Jesus knows that in His Human nature, He is going to the Father, yet still linked with us, He desires at the same time to draw us too into this infinite Love existing between the Father and the Son.  So on this Passover night, Jesus desiring to reconcile all things in Himself, knowing He is going to offer the Supreme Sacrifice in His Passion, He now makes a new and eternal covenant in His own Flesh and Blood, summing up all of God’s covenants throughout the Old Testament.

Jesus fulfills God’s covenant with Adam, for He is the New Adam who obeys the Father even unto death, death on the Cross which becomes the New Tree of Life.  Jesus fulfills the broken covenant with Noah, by becoming the New Noah who leads us over the waters of sin and death, providing a New Ark of Wood, the Wood of the Cross.  In Jesus the covenant with Abraham is fulfilled and the name of Jesus becomes a source of worldwide blessing, for Jesus is the New Isaac who lays down His life on the Wood of the Cross as God the Father offers His own Son to die that we may live.  Jesus is also the New Moses who leads us out of slavery to sin, through the waters of Baptism, leading us through a desert journey in this life all the way to the Promised Land of heaven.  To free us from the slavery of sin, Jesus becomes the Passover Lamb, whose blood washes away our sins.  Jesus Christ even fulfills God’s covenant with David, for Jesus as the true Son of David is the King of kings and the Eternal High Priest, while at the same time, Jesus is the New Temple, the center of all those who worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth.

Now all these covenants are fulfilled in a new and everlasting covenant.  On this quiet, intimate night in the upper room, with the smell of freshly cooked lamb and flickering oil lamps casting their silhouettes against the wall, the apostles are amazed as Jesus changes the ancient Passover Feast of Moses, and institutes something entirely new.  In this new covenant, this Divine Person of Jesus Christ, now made man, uses the language of marriage as God gives the greatest gift He could ever give to our hearts; Himself.

Since the Gospels and Paul’s account were written 25 or 30 years after the Last Supper, the written words of Jesus instituting the Holy Eucharist are all slightly different, with each evangelist focusing on different aspects of this mystery, but they are all essentially the same language of marriage intimacy.  These words of Jesus are now summed up in the words we have been using at every Mass for centuries.   “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you.”  Jesus makes a complete gift of Himself, and when we eat of His most Sacred Flesh, we are drawn into His own Divine Life more powerfully then a moth would be consumed by the fires of the Sun.

“Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the Chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the New and Eternal Covenant…”  By drinking the Sacred Blood of God made Man, we are like a Bride who says yes to her new husband, saying with her life, “yes, let your blood be my blood and let us from this day forth be family together as one heart.”
In the consecration, Jesus separates the offering of His Body and Blood, just as His Blood would be separated from His Body in His Passion and Death on the Cross.  That is why every Holy Mass makes present again the One Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, offering His Death to the Father in the Sacred words of Jesus Himself, “This is my Body… This is my Blood”.  The whole mystery of Redemption is accomplished at every Holy Mass, as we are drawn into the eternal love story of the Father and the Son.

Jesus then says, “Do this in memory of me.”  This is why from the earliest moments of Christianity, this Breaking of Bread, this Holy Eucharist, this Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ was right at the center of what it meant to be Christian.  In the Acts of the Apostles, we read about the first 3,000 who were baptized on Pentecost, seeing in Acts 2:42 that “they continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers.”  In Acts we also see how the first Christians would still go to the synagogue and temple to study the Old Testament Sacred Scriptures because the New Testament was not even written.  Then in their homes they would follow Jesus’ command, “do this in memory of me,” and share the Holy Eucharist with the apostles.   We read in Acts 2:46 “And day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart.”  The spiritual food of the Eucharist is what brings us to true unity, because it unites us in the very Blood of Christ.

This new covenant, that fulfilled all the other covenants, meant so much to the early Christians because they remembered well the words Jesus recorded in John 6, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day…”  The early Christians knew and believed that their very source of covenantal life in the Family of God was found in this new and eternal covenant written in the very Flesh and Blood of our Lord Jesus.  And when they said yes, as we can still say yes to this very day, they realized that this new and eternal covenant could also be written, not on lifeless stone tablets, but right on their hearts as well… a marriage covenant, a love story to be read for the rest of eternity.

So tonight, once again Jesus offers us His own Flesh and Blood, seeking to unite our hearts with His Sacred Heart.  Like Mary, who always gave Her Immaculate and Perfect yes to Her Divine Spouse of Love, let us open our hearts to the Love story God offers us and fly like a little moth into the Infinite Furnace of God’s burning Love for us, seeking to live in His joyful Marriage Feast forever.