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Holy Thursday 2024



The gospel today focuses on Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. That was a very surprising and shocking thing for him to do. That was something that was done by servants or slaves. And that’s why Jesus did it. “I have come not to be served, but to serve,” he said—and to show us an example of how we should serve one another.


Sophia University and all our Jesuit schools have as a motto: “Men and women with and for others.” Jesus is the model of one who lived with us and for us. And this image of Jesus getting down on the floor to wash his disciples’ feet shows the true meaning of being men and women who live with and for others. They respect and encourage people and help them when they can.

But there is something else that we should rediscover in today’s liturgy. It is that part of the Last Supper when Jesus gives us his body and blood to eat and drink in the form of bread and wine. He knows he is about to leave this world but he wants to remain with us.

When people have to leave a neighborhood and move somewhere else, they might leave a little gift with their friends. Let’s say you have a very good friend who is going to be moving away and gives you a photo, maybe of the two of you together. When you see that photo, you remember your friend and the good times you had together. Or imagine that your friend leaves you a big bag of cookies, so that each time you eat one of the cookies you will remember that it came from your friend. (I think you see what’s coming next.)

Before Jesus left his disciples, he gave them bread and wine, telling them to remember him when they eat the bread and drink the wine. But it’s not like the cookies. When you have eaten all the cookies, there are no more. But the bread that Jesus gives is available to us every time we celebrate the Mass. And that bread is not just a reminder, like the photo or the cookies. The bread that Jesus gives actually contains Jesus himself. “This is my body. This is my blood.” Jesus has invented this marvelous way of staying with us by entering into our bodies to make us one with himself.

It is quite awkward to make the wine of Jesus’ blood available for everyone to drink. But we all share in the bread which is his body. The little wafer we receive might not look or taste like bread, but that’s what it is and, even more, it’s the body of Jesus entering into you and becoming one with you. So, in those precious minutes when you have Jesus inside you, be sure to offer him yourself—all your hopes and desires, your joys and sufferings of that day. And you can do that every time you receive him. And so, resolve to receive him often.

And don’t feel unworthy. We know from the gospels that Jesus loves sinners, so we can feel free to approach him, knowing he accepts us as we are and will make us better.


by Robert Chiesa, SJ




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