There are three phrases that help us to focus on what we celebrate tonight and the call we have received: “Do this in remembrance of me;” “Pray for your priests;” and “As I have done for you, you should also do.”
On Holy Thursday, on the night before he died for us, Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist with the words we just heard in St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians: “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. This cup is the new covenant in my blood...Do this in remembrance of me. The appearance of bread and wine remains; the substance is changed. There is a new reality. As our Catechism teaches: “In the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is truly, really and substantially contained. Dear friends, never casually receive this precious gift. Pray that you are filled with “Eucharistic wonder and awe” on this sacred night and always.
Tonight, we also celebrate the Institution of the Priesthood, through which the Eucharist is perpetuated. Upon the priests renewing their Ordination promises at the Chrism Mass on Tuesday, the Church conveyed this instruction: “Pray for your priests...that the Lord may keep them faithful as ministers of Christ so that they may lead you to Him who is the source of our salvation” Dear friends, my brother priests and I rely on your prayers and are ever grateful for your faithful witness and the support you offer to us.
At this Mass, we also commemorate the example of Jesus, the One who bent in humble service and washed the feet of his disciples. Upon doing so, he said: “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” Obviously, we wash the feet of one another by continuing our many works and ministries in compassionate and loving service of the poor, the hungry, the homeless and all those in most need.
At this fragile time in our world and nation, there is another way we must wash the feet of our brothers and sisters. It is through the respect we show to each other, especially when we engage those within the Church, the political arena and our circle of families and friends who may disagree with us and our positions. While never compromising our faith and moral convictions, it is essential that we stop shouting at one another and labeling one another. Mutual respect is what our world needs now more now than ever!
In addition, and in a special way in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we wash the feet of one another, by letting go of anger, bitterness and resentment and forgiving those who have offended us. It is not always easy to do, but it is possible or the Lord would not have told us to be merciful as the Father is merciful.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this most sacred night as we hear Jesus say: “Do this in remembrance of me,” ask for the grace to be filled with Eucharistic wonder and awe. Also, renew your promise to pray for your priests and for one another; and to go forth ever faithful to the command of Jesus, the one who washed the feet of his disciples and said: “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”