Spirit in the City

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Mass Times

  Sacred Heart St. Paul's Kateri Centre
 Sunday 09:30 AM 11:00 AM 11:00 AM
 Monday - Friday 08:30 AM
11:30 AM*
 Saturday 09:30 AM  -

*  Except Mondays


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In that community of Jews in Egypt, each family put the blood of a lamb on its doorpost and they were protected by God’s angel. Take blood and “apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. . . . Seeing the blood, I will pass over you.” What is the relationship between this command and Jesus’ words, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”? When Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me,” what did he mean by “this”? Could it mean more than one thing? Is it more than repetitive ritual?

We are conscious that there are things more destructive to human wellbeing than slavery in Egypt. Within every human being, there is slavery to the evil that kills beauty and joy; that destroys relationships. This living death is more to be feared than the death of the body.

One of the ancient writers speaks of our lips being the doorposts of our house and drinking the blood of Christ we are protected from the evil of sin because we have perfect love living within.

The choice of Gospel today is very significant.  We have just heard the oldest explanation of the Eucharist that has come down to us. In John’s gospel, where the other gospels have the institution of the Eucharist at the last supper, he has Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. John, in placing the washing of the feet where the other evangelists put the words of institution, is reminding us that washing each other’s feet, service, is what the Eucharist is really all about. In the gospel of John, it is the foot-washing , that is the central action at the Last Supper.

This action of the Lord demands our humbly accepting Him in our lives. At first, Peter tried to prevent the Lord from humbling Himself. “Would you wash my feet, Lord?” “I don’t think so!” Jesus tells Him and us that if we do not allow Him to give Himself to us, if we are so proud to think that we do not need Him, then He will have no part of us. Many Catholics withdraw from the Eucharist. Recently I was inviting someone to renew their involvement in the church. The response was something like, “I don’t go to Mass but I pray in my own way.” That might sound pietistic and nice, but is it not saying, “I don’t need the Eucharist.”? Why? I’m a pretty good person. I don’t intentionally go out to injure people. I’m happy enough with my progress in life. Why would anyone who is free to receive ever think that he or she does not need this gift of God’s presence? Could it be that we can become so proud that we might think that we do not need to come before God and accept His humbling himself for us.

We are invited to eat the bread and drink the cup. When we do, that body and blood of Christ is not transformed into our bodies, as ordinary food is. Instead, it makes us into the body of the Lord.

And if we are the body of Christ, we do what Christ does! “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” The center of the Eucharist has been taken away from the ritual of the table to speak about communion through loving service.

Jesus would not allow His disciples to turn their focus toward themselves. “You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." The washing of the feet is a prophetic sign of the gift of the Body and Blood of the Lord at the Last Supper and on the Cross. We are called to prophesy in the same way. We are called to do what Jesus did. We are called to offer our Bodies and our Blood for others. We are not just called to be nourished. We are called to nourish others. In all the actions tonight and throughout our lives, we pray for the humility to be nourished by Him and the determination to nourish others.

Metaphorically speaking, what are some ways you can wash your neighbors’ feet?

In the second reading, from St. Paul to the Corinthians, St. Paul presents some of the customs of the early Church. He begins with a few minor issues, such as how people are to dress, but then Paul raises a major problem. The Corinthians were allowing divisions to be evidenced among them. The early celebrations of the Supper of the Lord used to begin with a meal. But instead of some sort of ancient parish pot luck, the Corinthians were divided at the table. They only shared their food with those with whom they associated. The rich brought gourmet food, but only for their rich friends. The poor often went hungry. Paul reminds them of what is taking place when they meet for the Breaking of the Bread. This is a time to celebrate unity and inclusion of evryone. Division in the community is a contradiction to the Eucharist.

We must do whatever we can to build unity within our parish. In our parish we have encouraged “One on one” conversation the first Sunday of the month. The purpose of this is to respect the dignity of every parishioner: we share something of our story with one another. We come to appreciate the gifts and strengths of one another as well as the challenges and interests. We call one another into service and we become aware of issues of injustice that need to be resolved to bring about the common good.

We must always approach one another with respect knowing that the Lord Jesus has disguised himself in the ordinary. We must always approach the Eucharist with respect knowing that the Lord Jesus has disguised himself in the ordinary.

  • We need in faith to find Him in the Bread and Wine.
  • We need in faith to find him in one another.
  • The bread is the body of Christ.
  • We are the body of Christ.

St. John makes it clear that we cannot expect to have true communion with Christ in the taking of the bread and wine, if we do not do what he did; if we do not pour out our life blood in service of others. Tonight we thank the Lord for his true presence in the bread and wine and the Ministerial priesthood which is called to imitate the good Shepherd who searches for the lost one.

Our Eucharist only becomes real after we leave the church.  If the celebration of the Eucharist stops at the church door it is incomplete.  It is a kind of sacrilege to claim to recognize Christ in the bread and wine and not in those around us. There are only two commands in the gospel of John: “to love one another as I have loved you.” and “you must wash each other’s feet.. as I have done.”         These two are the same.

You are here: Sunday Homily HOLY THURSDAY 2012