Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza

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MAUNDY THURSDAY -2007
Mass of the Lord's Supper - Year:C
Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; I Cor 11:23-6;
Jn 13:1-15

The Institution of Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist.

"Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?' Jesus answered, 'You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.' Peter said to him, 'You will never wash my feet.' Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.' Simon Peter said to him, 'Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!' Jesus said to him, 'One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.' For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, 'Not all of you are clean.'

After he had washed their feet, put on his robe, and returned to the table, Jesus said to them, 'Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord - and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.'" [Jn. 13:1-15]

The last supper of Jesus is celebrated all over the world millions of times a day in different communities, and the strength that is obtained from this celebration nurtures so many millions more round the globe, is a daily miracle that takes place.

Helpful Event

Jane and Vincent came to me for arranging annulment of their marriage. I was not able to give them any answer after listening them. Yet, I challenged them saying that they should visit me separately. They agreed. I called Jane and said that I would work for annulment of their marriage provided she does one charitable act towards her husband. “What?” she asked. I told her that she should look at her husband’s face for 10 minutes before going ahead with this process. She agreed. I called then Vincent and said to him that before any procedure he has to wash the feet of his wife Jane. “Impossible” he said. Then my reply, “impossible for annulment of marriage”. “Well then” he said, “if you proceed towards annulment I will do that work”. A day was fixed for both of them to do this exercise on a single sitting. I had no clue as to what happened to this couple later. But one day both of them came to my office, with a cake. I was surprised to see them both so happy and together. I asked what had happened. Well, the answer was, the husband had washed the feet of his wife and she was just sobbing and weeping and embraced her husband and she looked at him not just for 10 minutes but for more than 15 minutes and thereafter they had become friends, burying all their past and becoming more of a loving couple.

Incident:
Once I visited one of my friend’s home. The hosts, Robert and Julie were happy to see me. Once settled in our conversation and discussion on various topics over a cup of tea, Robert suddenly zeroed in on an interesting topic ‘church’. He complained saying, ‘Fr. Rudy, you see in the past our churches were full, vibrant, liturgy was good, all people used to sing and participate actively in the Holy Eucharist, now it seems people have lost sense of this sacredness, ‘they do it for the sake of doing it’. Then he added, ‘to tell you my own experience dear father, I have attended in my past 40 years more than 3000 holy Eucharistic celebrations and I do not find any drastic change in me’. Then retorted Julie ‘yes dear Fr. Rudy, I have cooked more than 40000 meals for my husband over the last 25 years, and I do not find any specific change in him either’. I was stunned by this peculiar conversation. I had to bring this conversation to an end and said, ‘You both seem to understand less of these facts about the Holy Eucharist and the daily food habits. Do you love one another? ‘Yes dear father, we do really love one another, we forgive one another’ they replied. “Do you accept one another and do you go to bed without talking to each other when things go wrong?” ‘Never’ was the reply. What about your children well settled? Yes father, thank God, they are all well settled and happy. What about your health condition? “Thank God dear father, we are all healthy and happy. No major sickness in our family. Then I said to them, ‘Robert you said ‘nothing extraordinary happened in your life after those 3000 Holy Eucharistic celebrations’, but I find a lot of good in your life, you love, you forgive, you accept one another, you live a peaceful life, what more you do want, would you like to be lifted up in the air each time you receive the Holy Eucharist? Julie, you confess that your family members are healthy, happy, united and you said there is no major sickness, don’t you think this is the outcome of your own hard work at providing good food to your family members?’ ‘well dear friends’, I concluded, ‘you should see wonderful secret hidden miracles happening in your family and among the members. What a truth that the Holy Eucharist and the family Eucharist of daily meals and food has done such a lot of good and you continue to experience its good effects?’ The conversation ended with a peaceful note with the acknowledgement of the reality of the importance of translating the effects of the Holy Eucharist in our daily life.

We find everywhere memorials are erected. War memorials, peace memorials for the heroes, liberation memorial of a nation, memorial for holy people, for political and national leaders etc. But you will not find a meal as memorial anywhere but in the case of Jesus’ last Supper.


Episode:

Diana and Dodi died a tragic death after their supper at Ritz hotel in Paris in 1997. At that last supper Dodi had given a ring worth 130000 pounds to Diana. Mr. Dodi himself a millionaire said to Diana it seems that their love would be eternal. They had planned to go to California and settle down. But the tragic death ended all that planning.


Supper Is A Moment To Share Our Intimate Feelings.

It was a memorial. We have many memorials erected in our country for all those who died a brave death. We have memorials of Buddha and many saints of India. But the memorial of Lord, that is left by himself, is unique and can never find an equal match to it.

Whenever we go to a memorial, it will remind us of the good deeds that the person or that event accomplished. It will only recall to our mind pain and sorrow, liberation and victory; where as the memorial of our Lord gives us life in abundance (Jn 10.10) and strength.

The memorial is the Eucharist. With the mysterious words pronounced on the bread and wine, we are offered the greatest of the aliments and graces. The body and blood of Christ, is the essence of Christianity.

The other memorials in the world are only reminders; the memorial of our Lord is a celebration that vibrates in our life.

Before the actual Last Supper took place Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles. There was one who protested: Peter. He was always afraid of the Cross. He wanted a crown without sweat or suffering.

The washing of the feet of the apostles began with a series of seven actions.


Rising
: During the meal the master has no need to rise. He would command and everything will be served.

Laying aside his garments
: Why did he lay aside his garments? Apostles astounded. He stripped himself for work.

Taking a Towel
: Here there was no need for a big towel. Perhaps the disciples did not understand what was going to happen. They were making their own conclusions.

Putting it about Him
: He becomes the first servant among his disciples. I call you friends and not servants. Most probably the disciples were all dumb founded. Could not understand what was he going to do.

Pouring Water
: Now the disciples were sure he wanted to wash something. Never they thought that he would come closer to their feet. Something never had happened in the history is going to happen. To show to the whole world that it is in serving and washing the feet that we need to build up. Service provokes love and compassion. Service helps relate with others, service makes one equal to the other.

Washing the feet
: The very act of washing the feet was reserved to the slaves during those days and even today. Jesus becomes slave to his own disciples. What a condescension! What he spoke was getting realized. I came to serve and not to be served.

Wiping with a towel
:
The dirty feet of the disciples were cleansed for proclaiming the good news. The would happen walking long distances. Water had to be wiped, to make it sure they are all clean. Jesus wanted an action that is complete. He could ask a servant to wipe. No, he himself wiped the feet. Wiping soothes the feet. When the feet are washed and wiped one feels relaxed.


Then Jesus enters the Second Scenario of the Last Supper

Often he spoke of his body. He would take a new body after the passion and death. The Body of Christ has seven features which are to be realized in our life too if we have to become his close disciples and if we have to become the partakers of his resurrection.

  1. He told them that to be a member of his new Body all would have to be born into it. But it would not be through a human birth, for that made sons of Adam; to be a member of His new Body one would have to be reborn through the spirit in the water of Baptism which would made adopted sons of God. Nicodemus (John 3:3-5). No one can enter the kingdom of God unless born of Spirit and Water.

  2. The unity between this new Body and Him would not be through singing hymns to Him, nor having social teas in his name, nor listening to broadcasts, but through sharing his life: “Dwell in me, as I in you... I am the vine and you are the branches. (Jn 15:5). Attachment to Christ.

  3. His new Body would be like all living things, small at first - even as he said “like a mustard seed”; but it would grow from simplicity to complexity until the consummation of the world. As he put it: “first the blade, then the ear, then full-grown corn in the ear” (Mk 4:28).

  4. A house expands from the outside in, by the addition of brick to brick; human organizations grow by the addition of man to man, i.e., from the circumference to the centre. HIS Body, He said, would be formed from the inside out, as a living embryo is formed in the human body. As He received life from the Father, the faithful would receive life from Him. As He put it: “May they all be one as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, so also may they be in us” (Jn 17:21): one in mission; one in spirit; one in goal; one in work; one in community; one in prayer; one in praise; one in forgiveness; one in Eucharist; one in communion and sharing.

  5. Our Lord said that He would have only one Body. It would be a spiritual one for Him to have many bodies or a dozen heads. To keep it one, it would have one shepherd, whom He appointed to feed His lambs and His sheep. “There will then be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn10:16). Invitation to accept authority. No institution or organization can function without a head. 

  6. He said that His new body would not manifest itself before men until the day of Pentecost when He would send His truth-giving Spirit. “If I do not go, your Advocate will not come” (Jn 16:7). Holy Spirit is at the root of our vocation, mission, and salvation. 

  7. The most interesting observation He made about His body was that it would be hated by the world, as He was. Anything worldly the world loves. But what is Divine, the world hates: “Because I have chosen you out of the world, for that reason the world hates you” (Jn 15:20).

The Last Supper is a moment of great renewal to all of us. It is the institution of priesthood that enables us to be like Jesus. Jesus wanted to have this unique experience with his disciples before his death on the Cross.

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Dear friend, my homilies will be posted on Thursdays and you can benefit them and if you need more resources, you could contact me on rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

Let us make this ministry fruitful one so that the Word of God becomes a source of joy for me and for you and help people become more aware of its riches. You are also welcome to share your feedback with me. Thanks and God bless. 

 

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