Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

"...when we receive the Eucharist we are receiving nourishment not only for ourselves but we are receiving something that makes us like Christ. And for that we recall the washing of the feet of others, because this is the act of charity, this is the act that makes us Christians different in everything we do. We take our worship into the streets by converting it into a revelation in action, a revelation of God’s love for the whole world.”  ~from The Vatican on the Mass of Our Lord's Supper

During the Last Supper and coincident with His Gift of the Sacrament of Love, Jesus also left us His testament of love -- the living, concrete testament of His admirable example of humility and charity in the washing of the Apostles' feet, and His oral testament in the proclamation of His "new commandment". The Gospel of today's Mass (John 13:1-15) shows us Jesus, as the Master, washing the Apostles' feet; it ends with His words: "I have given you an example, that as I have done, you also may do". It is an urgent invitation to that fraternal charity which should be the fruit of union with Jesus, the fruit of our Eucharistic Communion. He mentioned it in precise words at the Last Supper: "A new commandment I give unto you: 'that you love one another' as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34).

If we cannot imitate the love of Jesus by giving our body as food to our brethren, we can imitate Him at least by giving them loving assistance, not only in agreeable circumstances, but also in difficult and disagreeable ones. By washing His disciples' feet, the master shows us how far we should humble ourselves to render a service to our neighbour, even were he most lowly and abject. The Master, who, by unceasing proofs of His love, advances to meet ungrateful men and even those who have betrayed Him, teaches us that our charity is far from His unless we repay evil with good, forgive everything, and are even willing to repay with kindness those who have done us harm. The Master, who gave His life for the salvation of His own, tells us that our love is incomplete if we cannot sacrifice ourselves generously for others. His "new commandment", which makes the love of Jesus Himself the measure of our fraternal love, opens up unlimited horizons for the exercise of charity, for it means charity without limits. If there is a limit, it is that of giving, like the Master, one's life for others, for "greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

Jesus revealed to us the perfection of fraternal charity on the same evening that He instituted the Eucharist, as if to indicate that such perfection should be both the fruit of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and our response to this great gift.

 ~Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., in Divine Intimacy

Dear Jesus,
who came not to be served but to serve,
and to give Your life as a ransom for many (Mt 20:28),
quicken our hearts to wash each other's feet
"in charity without limits".

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