HOMILY FOR HOLY THURSDAY.
THEME: The Sacraments of the Passover.
BY: Fr Justus Oruma
(a) Today is the Feast and the institution of the Holy Eucharist, “the source and summit of Christian Life” (CCC: 1324). During the Passover, Jesus took bread and wine and in THANKSGIVING to His Father said; “Take this all of you and eat it, this is my Body…” At the end of the super He said, “take this all of you and drink from it, this is the Chalice of my Blood…” Thus the Eucharist was instituted. It is called Eucharist, from the greek “eukharistia” meaning thanksgiving, for Jesus offered us His Body and Blood in Thanksgiving to God the Father for our salvation.
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(b) Today is also the institution of the sacred priesthood. At the end of the Thanksgiving offering (Eucharistia) Jesus told His disciples, “do this in memory of me”. At this He made the Apostles priests, people who would continue the celebration. The “in memory of me” is not a mere remembrance but making the “past event” a “present” which will perdure until end of time. “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim His death until He comes” (1Cor.11:26). There is then need of priestly ordination, taken from the Apostle in a unbroken succession. The priest Melchizedek is identified with bread and wine for Thanksgiving offering (Gen.14:18), thus prefiguring Jesus Christ who is both the Holy Eucharist and The Priest and from whom all persons ordained priest participate in the one Priesthood in different ways and hierarchies. Therefore, the Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist are inseparable. So without Holy Eucharist there is no priesthood (secundum ordinem Melchizedek) and without the priesthood there is no Eucharist.
(c) From the very first time the Eucharist was eaten, it was prepared for. Jesus told the two, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” (Lk. 22:8). And Jesus prepared His disciples washing their feet, knowing they have come from a long distance, thereby making them clean for the meal. The Order, Authority and call to the priesthood is one of service and appointment to offer sacrifices (Heb.8:3). Pray for your priests! The priest prepares Himself and the people for the Eucharist, for it is not a meal eaten unprepared. What is our attitude to Holy Eucharist and the Holy Mass? We ought to prepare for the Holy Mass, be properly disposed, punctual and celebrate with devotion, making earnest effort to receive the Holy Communion free from sin, that is, in the state of grace, celebrating and participating in the Holy Mass each time as if it is the ONLY MASS and as if it is our LAST MASS. (Mother Theresa of Calcutta).
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