Mass of the Lord’s Supper – Homily

Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Exodus 12:1-89, 11-14
Psalm 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-15
March 27, 2024

Paul speaks of what he “received from the Lord” and “handed on to” the Corinthians and others he led to the Catholic faith.

He speaks of the Eucharist.

To understand the Eucharist, we need to understand the Jewish Passover.  We find God’s instructions for the Passover beginning in our first reading tonight.

As God establishes the Passover, He makes it clear it is no small thing they are doing.  The Passover is to stand at the head of their calendar.  It is to be celebrated by “every one” of the Israelite families.  They must procure a lamb.  Because God deserves our best, the lamb “must be a year-old male and without blemish.”  Year-old so that it is healthy and desirable, not useless.  It must be without blemish to be a worthy sacrifice.

They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel.”  Why?  Because the Lord is going “to go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn of the land” but when He sees the blood on the doorposts, He will pass over their homes without harm.

Having sacrificed the lamb, “that same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.” 

The eating of the meat indicated their sharing in the sacrifice.

The unleavened bread symbolized the haste in which they left Egypt.

The bitter herbs symbolized the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.

The Passover was not a one-time celebration.  It was to be celebrated as a “memorial feast” and “a perpetual institution.”  It was to be celebrated each year as God made the Passover present for all future generations.

It is no coincidence that the Lord chose to begin what we celebrate in our Easter Triduum on the night of the Jewish Passover.

As Paul speaks of what he received from the Lord, he speaks of the Eucharist.  At the Last Supper, Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, and broke it saying, “This is my body that is for you.”  Paul makes it clear that he received this from the Lord, not from humans.  He recalls how Jesus took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” 

Jesus takes the Passover, something that was already incredible and makes it something more.

Jesus becomes the sacrificial lamb without blemish.  Jesus is the one sacrificed for our sins.

When we eat the Eucharist, we partake of the sacrifice offered for our sins just as the Israelites did when they ate the roasted lamb.  We do so with unleavened bread, recalling how our Jewish ancestors eat unleavened bread as they left slavery in Egypt in haste.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, we are set free from slavery to sin.

As the Israelites marked their doorposts with the blood of the lamb, we are marked with the blood of Jesus, who is the Lamb of God sacrificed for our sins.

The Eucharist was given on Holy Thursday.  The sacrifice was offered on Good Friday.  The sacrifice Jesus offered in his Crucifixion would seem like defeat if not for the empty tomb.  Jesus brings it all together when He says this is my body which will be given up for you, my blood which shall be poured out you. 

As Jesus celebrated the Last Supper, He “knew that his hour had come.”  He knew all that would happen.  He did not flee.  He accepted the suffering He would face not for his own good but for our salvation

He did this for you and for me. 

Why?  Because He loves us.

This is what Jesus gives us as He instituted the Eucharist on Holy Thursday.

In the Eucharist, we celebrate a sacrifice.  To celebrate a sacrifice, a priest is required.  So, on the same night Jesus instituted the Eucharist, He also instituted the priesthood.

He rose from supper and took off his outer garments.

The outer garments symbolized status.  Jesus held great status as the Messiah and the Son of God but He did not claim great status or any benefit of it.

Instead, He began to wash the feet of his disciples.  As such, He took on the role of servant.  He gave a model to follow.

Today I serve as your priest as I preside at the Eucharist, the sacrifice of Jesus but it isn’t about me.  I am here to serve Jesus and to serve you.  My serving you is not about giving you what you want (or what I want).

My serving you is to give you what Jesus wills for you.

Tonight Jesus gives us the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is not about just what happened this night to Jesus.  It involves everything that happens in these next three days we call the Easter Triduum.

Do you realize what Jesus has done for you?

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