"When we work hard, we must eat well. What a joy, that you can receive Holy Communion often! It's our life and support in this life -- Receive Communion often, and Jesus will change you into himself."--Saint Peter Julian Eymard: (1811 – 1868) was a French Catholic priest, founder of two religious institutes, Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and Servants of the Blessed Sacrament)
Gospel Text: (JN 13:1-15)
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
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.”
You might think that Jesus, knowing that in just a few hours he would be nailed to a cross, would have had more important things on his mind than a meal. If someone came up to you, and told you that you were going to be killed in less than 24 hours, would you sit down for a meal? Many people would skip eating all together: after all, if you really knew that you were going to die in less than 24 hours, why feed your body? Wouldn’t there be more important things to put first?
But if you would answer “yes, I’d sit down for a meal,” then ask yourself, “Would you sit down for a banquet?” Would you spend about three out of your remaining 24 hours at a banquet? That’s what Jesus did. Of course, to use the word “banquet” is still selling short what Jesus did at the Last Supper. The Last Supper was snot just a meal. It was a banquet.
The Passover Meal was the ritual meal of the Jews saying that the sacrifice of their ancestors had been worth it, and that if they had to choose for themselves, they would do it all over again: that freedom from slavery is worth the price that had to be paid, because God had something greater in mind for His Chosen People than slavery.
Some Jews, like Judas Iscariot, thought that that “something greater” was a powerful Kingdom on earth. But Jesus came into this world for something that goes beyond any earthly hopes, plans, or desires.
Jesus came into this world to destroy the power of sin and death. Jesus came into this world to offer freedom from sin, not from Pharaoh. Jesus came into this world to open up again the gates of Heaven, not the Red Sea. This is the freedom that Jesus won by dying on the Cross. But tonight, Jesus institutes the Eucharist, as a sacred meal—a sacrament—that lets us share in the power of the Cross, that makes us present at Calvary.
This Sacrament of the Eucharist is the foretaste of all of the goodness that God has prepared for us. Jesus gave us this Sacrament on the night before He died as a way of sharing in His promise to deliver us from every form of slavery, from every one of our sins, and to lead us from this world into something that is greater and that lasts forever.