Holy Thursday: The Meal of Meals

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By Chilima Muntanga, SJ

Readings: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-13

The Meal of Meals

In today’s commemoration of the Lord’s supper, the reading presents us with various meals. In the first reading, we encounter the LORD giving Moses and Aaron the law for the Passover mean. In the Second reading, Paul gives a narrative of the Lord’s supper. The Gospel according to John presents Jesus and his disciples at the last supper – the meal of meals. Mealtimes are important times for any community or family. Mealtimes provide us with an opportunity to come together. Mealtimes are moments of strengthening family and community ties, as well as building better relationships. Mealtimes also offers us an opportunity to build a sense of belonging for everyone in the family or religious community.

In the first reading, the LORD gives Moses and Aaron the law for the Passover meal. Among other details of this meal, it had to comprise of a lamb – the flesh be eaten (roasted), while the blood to be smeared of the doorposts – a sign for the LORD to pass over them. Besides, while each family is supposed to follow this law to the last detail, it is interesting that if the household is too small for a lamb, two households are to have the meal together. Such a meal was not just a commemoration of the LORD’s intervention in the lives of the Israelites, but a moment of sharing, an occasion moment for fraternal charity. This is why such a meal was important in the Israelite community, and so it is for us today in our religious communities and families.

In time of the pandemic, we live or die as people of hope

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul gives a narrative of the Lord’s supper; how bread was broken and given, and how the chalice after supper, was offered as the new covenant in his blood, this was the institution of the Holy Eucharist. Whenever we remember our Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament of the alter, we are placing our hope that we shall conquer in every trial and tribulation with Jesus who conquered sin and death by offering himself up even unto death. Even in the time of the pandemic of the Coronavirus, we believe that in celebrating the Holy Eucharist, we shall live as people of hope, and even if we die, we shall die full of hope in Christ.

In the Gospel according to John, Jesus and his disciples having a meal – the last supper. This is not just any other meal, it is the meal of meals because it is served by Jesus with a commission attached. Having made the disciples worthy of the mission (through the washing of the feet), Jesus asks them to go and do likewise. This brings us to the celebration of the priestly Order, for in the priests, we see men of the Lord for others. The celebration of the Holy Eucharist as instituted by Jesus materializes with the presence of the priest.

Thank Jesus for instituting the Holy Eucharist for the Church

As we commemorate the Lord’s supper and driven by the graces we receive from the Body and Blood of Christ, may we heed to the call for fraternal charity, go out and do to others what Jesus has done for us. Through the participation in the Lord’s supper, may we draw from such a great mystery, the fullness of charity and life. As we thank Jesus for instituting the Holy Eucharist for the Church, let us ask him to bless all the priests, especially those who serve in troubled parts of the world. May this commemoration make us better people at the service of the Lord.

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