We’ve made it to Holy Thursday in our Lent Devotional for Women. Holy Thursday is probably one of my favorite Masses of the year. It’s a day of great joy, in the midst of a sorrowful week. At the Last Supper, the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood took place on this Holy Thursday.
I grew up nominally Catholic and the two masses that stand out in my memory are Holy Thursday and Midnight Mass. Holy Thursday was one of my favorite Masses of the year because of the washing of the feet and the song the cantor sang. Now that I’m older it’s equal parts the washing of the feet and the institution of the Eucharist.
The song we sang while the priest washed the feet of 12 men of the parish was, “Jesus Took the Towel.” (I couldn’t find any versions on YouTube I liked.) When I was a child, it was sung by a solo man’s voice, softly, humbly, slowly. As he sang, quietly off to the side, the priest would kneel down and wash the feet of twelve men in the parish.
The washing of the feet was such a humble act both on the part of the priest and the men. I loved seeing the elderly men in our parish, humbly and even somewhat feebly walk up the aisle, sit down and take off their shoe and sock so the priest could wash their feet.
Lent Devotional for Women” Institution of the Eucharist
And then, the Last Supper, the institution of the Eucharist.
Holy Thursday brings to mind the Lord’s Last Supper with the Apostles. As in previous years, Jesus celebrates the Passover with His own disciples. But this time the celebration would have singular characteristics, as it was to be the last Passover of the Lord before His transit to the Father and because of the events which were to take place immediately following it. Every minute of this Last Supper reflects both the Majesty of Jesus, who knows He is to die the following day, and His love and affection for men.
In Conversation with God
Ah, friends. Think of a last meal with those closest to you. It’s a painful meditation, at least for me. What would you want to say? Do? How would you love on them and prepare them…all the while holding the secret deep within your heart, yet in the forefront of your mind, “Tomorrow I die.” And in our Lord’s case, “Tomorrow I go to my horrific death to redeem the world.”
What Christ did for His own may be summarized in a few words from St. John, “he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1)
In Conversation with Christ
Today is a day to meditate on the love Jesus has for each one of us as the author states. And considering the institution of the Eucharist, a word meaning “Thanksgiving,” we should be grateful for the tender love and care God the Father takes for us. And then pay it forward, as the saying goes.
The author explains Jesus gave Himself in the Eucharist to strengthen us in our weakness and to accompany us in our loneliness; that’s the example we take with us to pay forward.
The world is full, filled to its ever-loving brim with lonely people.; maybe now more than ever before! The world is also filled with people who could use a little boost in strength. They need someone to just smile and say, “I’m beside you.” More often than not they don’t need advice or solutions. They need a presence, but not just any presence.
They need a warm body, even better, a warm soul alongside them saying, “I’m here and you can do this.” That was Jesus at the Last Supper, although He didn’t use those words.
He was present. And by instituting the Eucharist, He let the Apostles and all the disciples to come know that we could do “this.” He didn’t leave us or abandon us; His Word even says so.
This is important to remember, beginning now especially. Tonight after Mass, the altar will be stripped and the Blessed Sacrament removed. The Church will not carry on Her usual activity on Friday and Saturday. As a matter of fact, Saturday is always eerily quiet in such a living, active, breathing, and life-giving church.
But Jesus isn’t gone. He hasn’t abandoned us or forgotten us. On the contrary. He’s gone to prepare a place for us.
More Lent Devotional for Women posts.