Maundy Thursday – The Epistle. I Corinthians XI. 23.
The Epistle. I Corinthians XI. 23.
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 when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
Tonight is a night of mixed emotions for us Christians. We know that on this night, Jesus will be betrayed by two of his apostles, be arrested, and begin the ordeal of physical suffering that will end in his crucifixion. It is also the night where Our Lord will institute the most Holy Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
During the relatively short time that I have been a member of the clergy, I have from time to time been asked what time we will be holding services. And I will tell them that Morning Prayer will be at this time, or Evening Prayer will be at that time, etc. Invariably, the questioner will say, “but when will you be having Holy Communion”? “oh”, I reply, “I thought you were talking about our services; what you want to know about is the time for the Holy Mass”.
You see, when we have Morning or Evening Prayer, or even Benediction, those are services that we do for God. puff bar locations They are things instituted and performed by man. But by that definition, the Mass, strictly speaking, is not essentially done by man at all.
No priest or bishop in Apostolic Succession has ever held a “service” called a Mass. We are mere “stand-ins” for the High Priest himself, Jesus Christ. As Catholic priests, we stand “in persona Christi”, in the person of Christ. You do not come to receive our body and blood. You come to receive the Body and Blood of the only one truly capable of offering that sacrifice. At the Mass, our personality becomes sublimated nearly to the point of non-existence, so that we may be Christ’s willing tools for the consecration of His Blessed Sacrament. We don’t do this. Christ does.
It is Jesus Christ who gave himself to be sacrificed upon the cross so that we may be cleansed from our sins and brought to eternal life. It is Jesus Christ who, before he was betrayed and killed, instituted that sacrifice perpetually so that we may always have access to his Saving Grace. And it is Jesus Christ, acting through his priests and bishops, who brings us into communion with him.
This is why the Holy Mass is so special. This is why the Holy Mass is no mere service; something instituted and performed by mortal men. When you come to the Holy Mass you are really and truly in the Presence of Christ, offering himself again and always just as he did on this night some two thousand years ago.
Maundy Thursday has always cheap blueberry ice boss bar been one of my personal favorite days because of this. It is also one of my least favorite because when we conclude, the Blessed Sacrament will be removed to a place called the altar of repose. Tomorrow, on Good Friday, the remainder of this reserved Sacrament will be consumed. And then, we will be without.
Hymn number 80 in our hymnal is called “were you there”, some of you may know it. The third verse says, “were you there when they laid him in the tomb? Sometimes, is causes me to tremble”. The thought that there is a time where we are without the Blessed Sacrament; the thought that there may be a period of time, however brief, where the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is not available to us? That causes me to tremble.
You see, we can hold Morning or Evening Prayer services whenever we like. But the Mass cannot be held without Christ. There can be no Mass without his Grace. There can be no Mass without his Presence. There can be no Mass except that Jesus Christ himself offers it for us.
This is why the Mass is the center of our worship. Pope John Paul II described the Mass as “Heaven on earth”. This is the one glimpse of heaven that we humans can actually see, hear, feel, touch and take part of, during our mortal lives. Heaven on earth. And it is available to us because of what Christ does tonight.
So tonight, when you hear the words of institution, “THIS IS MY BODY”, “THIS IS MY BLOOD”, remember that while the voice you hear may sound like that of the priest celebrating the Mass, in reality you are hearing Christ himself. As the Host and the Cup are elevated, look up and repeat with St. Thomas, “My Lord, and my God”. And give thanks for this night when Christ himself gives us heaven on earth through his Body and Blood.