Many of today’s blog posts from various Catholic bloggers rare reflecting on Jesus washing the feet of the apostles. And rightly so. The Gospel for today, John 13:1-15, speaks precisely to that. However, it is the second reading upon which I wish to focus on.
The reading comes from 1 Corinthians 11:23-26:
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke and said: Take and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood. This do, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until he come.
This reading is tied into the Responsorial Psalm for the day as the response is based upon the passage in 1 Corinthians 10:16 which reads, “The chalice of benediction which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?”
In both cases, Saint Paul is speaking to the Corinthians about the Holy Eucharist, instituted by Christ this night once Our Blessed Lord washed the feet of the apostles. Many Protestants and even some Catholics do not understand or accept the True Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
The institution of this Sacrament is not only prefigured in the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Passover), recounted in the first reading of tonight’s Mass (Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14), but also explicitly recorded and stated by Our Lord Himself in John 6:32-58.
The passages from Saint Paul’s Epistles to the Corinthians illustrate a chronology of the Eucharist celebration and indeed confirm the Catholic dogma of the True Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. In face Saint Paul, in the second reading, is actually using the “Words of Consecration” that the priest, to this very day, uses to call down the Holy Spirit and perform the single greatest miracle from God which is transubstantiation. The changing of the nature of the bread and the wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. And in order that we not be confused with cannibals, as was charged against early Christians, the appearance and accidents of the bread and wine remain – it is the substance that changes. This is obviously a mystery of Our Lord and to fully explain and/or understand it using human intellect is impossible.
What I find most interesting is that even with the Eucharistic discourse in John 6 and Saint Paul’s continued clarification to the Corinthians of the reality of the Blessed Sacrament in verses 27-30, many self-professing Christians do not believe and accept the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. What makes my point stick even more is when you take into account that the Last Supper is held on a Thursday and there is no paschal lamb.
You see, there were apparently two Judaic calendars in use at the time. The pharisees used a lunar calendar which would have the final Passover meal on Friday (thus the reason why they would not enter Pilate’s home) and the other calendar, used by another group (I forgot the name) which was based on solar movements and the alignment of which called for the disregarded of a couple of days, always had the final Passover meal celebrated on Wednesday. What Jesus is doing is instituting the perfect Passover meal with Him as the Perfect Lamb in fulfillment of the Scriptures.
Anyway, it is an awesome Gift from God and the core of the Mass.
Happy Holy Thursday!