Sacred Triduum - Holy Thursday - 2012
Let us now turn our focus from the days of Lent to the immediate hours before the grand feast of our salvation, the Resurrection, the fulfillment of the Paschal Mystery. Jesus sent out the request for the disciples to find a particular room where he could gather for a Paschal Dinner with those men who had been so close to him during the three years of his ministry.
Jesus had more than Good Friday events in his heart and mind in gathering the men of "The Way" with him for a final meal. In doing this, Jesus is incorporating the ancient Jewish commemoration of the covenant between the Jewish people and Yahweh. It was his promise to them that they were to be His "chosen" people. But this was only a part of "covenant" business with the disciples. Jesus wished to lay out a new covenant for them and for all who would come after them. During the meal Jesus said words that would forever change the full understanding of "covenant." Holding a cup, we call it a chalice, Jesus said to them, "This is the new covenant in my blood." The practice of the paschal meal was forever to be different: no longer a simple meal of historic recollections, Jesus gives this paschal meal a new life, his own life, in a way that will be forever a mystery to his followers but a mystery of unbounded graces. From the meal and forever no longer would there be the blood of a sacrificial animal to commemorate the status of "chosen" ones. Henceforth there would be a New Covenant given to them and us by Jesus' own sacrificial death, his pouring out his blood from his sufferings and death on the cross. This new blood replaces the blood of goats and calves. This is new life, new choseness for his followers. This is a reminder of his gift of new life to all sinners, his pledge of covenant with us.
Perhaps the power of this moment is somewhat minimized in our hearts because we recreated this event every time we gather in the presence of the celebration of the Eucharist. At the altars in churches around the world every day we witness the offering of his blood, his love poured out for us again.
On this Holy Thursday and at the Masses we attend, our hearts should never forget what is happening especially during the moments when a priest says the words of consecration: "This is my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant." What we witness at each Mass is that His death, His pouring out his blood and giving up His body are the end to whatever it might be that separates me and you from Jesus Christ. The Holy Thursday liturgy is intended to remind us of His invitation to us to make his sacrifice not simply an historical moment but that His gift to us is ever present. We renew that sacrifice each time we do gather together in a community celebrating the Eucharist. When we receive consecrated bread and wine, we receive so much more: the new life of the new covenant. You and I, we are once again partaking in the gift of His life, His body and blood. Redemption is ours!