Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper: Holy Thursday



In this painting by Sieger Koder (click on image for larger version) the Lord washes Peter's feet, the bread and the cup of the eucharist on the table nearby. As the scriptures relate, Peter is objecting and protesting Christ's humble gesture. Jesus' face is hidden in service but reflected in the water in the basin. Note the Lord's own dirty feet: he serves others, taking care of their needs, before seeing to his own...

The Paschal Triduum begins with the entrance song for the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper. Lent has ended and we are about the work of the church: offering praise and thanks to God for the mercy, love and forgiveness that is ours in the dying and rising of Christ. We do this in memory of Jesus Christ, our passover and our lasting peace...
2009LentPostCollection
Although we easily associate the Lord's Supper and this particular liturgy with the Eucharist, the gospel for this day is John's account of the supper on the eve of Jesus' death and in this account the Eucharist is not mentioned. Rather, John presents us with Jesus the servant, washing the feet of his disciples and instructing them that just as he has done for them, so must they do for each other... And just has Christ did for them, so must we do for each other...

Most parishes will celebrate the rite called the Mandatum (from the Latin referring to the new command, the mandate Jesus gives his disciples that they should love one another.) In some communities the priest will wash the feet of 12 persons while in other communities the priest will wash the feet of a few who in turn wash the feet of others who in turn wash the feet of others... until all who so desire have had an opportunity to have their feet washed and in turn to wash another's feet...

In some earlier rites, the newly baptized were given a towel as a reminder of their mission to be of service to others...

Following the Mandatum is the liturgy of the Eucharist. Enough bread will be consecrated to provide communion for tomorrow's liturgy because the Eucharist is not celebrated on Good Friday.

Following communion, the ministers and the people process with the Eucharist to a chapel or altar where the Eucharist is kept overnight. In most places, the church remains open until midnight for people to return and pray.

After Christ's supper with his disciples on the night before he died, they went to the garden of Gethsemane where the Lord asked his friends to be with him in prayer. You'll remember from Palm Sunday's gospel that they kept falling asleep, unable to keep their eyes open. As he told them, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." This night the Lord invites us to spend some time with him in prayer. The place is less important than the time... Some may not be able to stay at church or to return later: just take some time at home to be with the Lord...

-ConcordPastor

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is so helpful and informative. Thank you for a beautiful post.
MDR