The three gifts of Holy Thursday

This morning, at the celebration of Lauds for Holy Thursday, the pastor here at Saint Anne’s in San Francisco shared in his reflection of the three gifts of Holy Thursday. These three gifts are: The Priesthood, The Eucharist, and The Great Commandment of “Love.” All of these gifts are given to us tonight as we commemorate the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper. At tonight’s Mass we will see these three gifts unfold in very symbolic ways all interweaving in one another.

Tonight, the Lord Jesus eats with his disciples the annual passover meal. This symbolizes the Jews freedom from slavery and bondage and brought into the “promised land” by Moses. Jesus becomes the sacrificial Lamb tonight to free us from our own slavery and bondage with the blood of the Cross. Tonight Jesus gives himself to us through his Body and Blood in the form of Bread and Wine. The ultimate sacrifice, the commandment of Love to give oneself freely out of love for another.

Then as the master, Jesus becomes the servant by washing the feet of his beloved disciples. This is the gift of the priesthood. Where a man comes “to serve and not to be served.” Jesus the priest sets the example for Priests and all people to be servants to one another. The gift of the priesthood is, yes, becoming a servant, but by the power of the Holy Spirit at ordination, a man become “in persona Christi,” in the person of Christ. He becomes Christ and does as Jesus does. The priest gives us each day Jesus’ Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. This is the commandment of love, the ultimate sacrifice, becoming a servant to another.

Jesus then tells us, “to love one another, as He loved us.” How are we to fulfill this commandment? We do this by becoming like Christ and imitating him. We become servants by washing each other’s feet and continue the mission which Jesus gives us in the Eucharist. At the end of tonight’s Mass, the Eucharist will be reposed to a side altar for adoration and prayer. Spend some time with Jesus. Pray to become a servant. Pray to become the gift of love. And, pray for your Priests that they too may be like Christ, the servant, the priest. Happy Holy Thursday!