Holy Thursday

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Holy Thursday
Liturgy of the Last Supper of the Lord.

First Reading

Exodus 12,1-8.11-14

Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 'This month must be the first of all the months for you, the first month of your year. Speak to the whole community of Israel and say, "On the tenth day of this month each man must take an animal from the flock for his family: one animal for each household. If the household is too small for the animal, he must join with his neighbour nearest to his house, depending on the number of persons. When you choose the animal, you will take into account what each can eat. It must be an animal without blemish, a male one year old; you may choose it either from the sheep or from the goats. You must keep it till the fourteenth day of the month when the whole assembly of the community of Israel will slaughter it at twilight. Some of the blood must then be taken and put on both door-posts and the lintel of the houses where it is eaten. That night, the flesh must be eaten, roasted over the fire; it must be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. This is how you must eat it: with a belt round your waist, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. You must eat it hurriedly: it is a Passover in Yahweh's honour. That night, I shall go through Egypt and strike down all the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike, and shall execute justice on all the gods of Egypt, I, Yahweh! The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are. When I see the blood I shall pass over you, and you will escape the destructive plague when I strike Egypt. This day must be commemorated by you, and you must keep it as a feast in Yahweh's honour. You must keep it as a feast-day for all generations; this is a decree for all time.


Psalm 115


Trust in the Lord all ye who are afraid.

I trusted, even when I said :
'I am sorely afflicted,'

and when I said in my alarm :
'No man can be trusted'.

Now can I repay the Lord
for his goodness to me?

'The cup of salvation I will raise;
I will call on the Lord's name.

My vows to the Lord I will fulfil
before all his people.

O precious in the eyes of the Lord
is the death of his faithful.

Your servant, Lord, your servant am I;
you have loosened my bonds

A thanksgiving sacrifice I make :
I will call on the lord's name.

My vows to the Lord I will fulfil
before all his people,

in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in the midst, O Jerusalem.

Second Reading

1 Corinthians 11,23-26

For the tradition I received from the Lord and also handed on to you is that on the night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and after he had given thanks, he broke it, and he said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' And in the same way, with the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.' Whenever you eat this bread, then, and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the Lord's death until he comes.

Reading of the Gospel

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

John 13,1-15

Before the festival of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father, having loved those who were his in the world, loved them to the end. They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from table, removed his outer garments and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?' Jesus answered, 'At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.' 'Never!' said Peter. 'You shall never wash my feet.' Jesus replied, 'If I do not wash you, you can have no share with me.' Simon Peter said, 'Well then, Lord, not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!' Jesus said, 'No one who has had a bath needs washing, such a person is clean all over. You too are clean, though not all of you are.' He knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said, 'though not all of you are'. When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments again he went back to the table. 'Do you understand', he said, 'what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you must wash each other's feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory


"I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before my Passion," (Lk 22:15) Jesus said to his disciples at the beginning of the last supper, before dying. Truly Jesus always had that desire and also that evening he wanted to be with his friends. After sitting at the table with the Twelve, Jesus took the bread, and gave it to them, saying: "This is my body, which is given for you." He did the same with the cup of wine, "This is my blood, which is poured out for you." That bread and that wine are the nourishment that come down from heaven for us who are pilgrims on the roads of this world. They make us more similar to Jesus and help us live as he was living. They make feelings of goodness, service, tenderness, love and forgiveness raise in us. They are the same feeling that lead Jesus to wash his disciples' feet, like a servant.
The Gospel of Holy Thursday exhorts the disciples to bend and wash one another's feet. Holy Thursday teaches us how to live and where to start living: true life is not standing in one's own pride; life according to the Gospel means bending down in front of our brothers and sisters, beginning with the weakest. It is a path that comes from heaven, and yet it is the most human path. We all need someone who bends towards us as well as we need to bend towards our brothers and sisters. Holy Thursday is truly a human day: the day of the love of Jesus who descends down to his friends' feet. And everyone is his friend, even the one who is about to betray him. Washing the feet is not a gesture, it is a way of living.
After dinner, Jesus walks to the Garden of Olive Trees. Here he kneels again, or rather he lies down on the ground and sweats blood, in pain and anguish. Let us be at least a little involved by this man who loves us with a love never seen on earth. And as we stay by the sepulchre, let us tell him of our friendship. Today, it is the Lord who needs company more than we do. Let us listen to his entreaty: "I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me" (Mt 26:38). Let us bow down to him and let us not fail him the consolation of our closeness.