April 9, 2020
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Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the gift of Eucharist, the real and enduring Presence of Christ in the world.
It is both ironic and instructive that on this “Corona” Holy Thursday, we are quarantined from the sacred Bread and Wine.
Today, as supper time falls slowly from east to west over the Earth, so will a palpable sadness that pandemic keeps us from physical communion with Christ and the believing community.
There will instead flow a great surge of virtual communion as we join an irrepressible wave of faith. The evening skies will echo with the precious words that, despite circumstances, gather us from whatever distances prevent us:
Jesus took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
Our Gospel reminds us of something which seems even more important this year – there are two equally significant dimensions to a full understanding of Eucharist:
- the Body and Blood we share at Mass
- the sacrificial service we live daily among the People of God
who are the living Body of Christ for us.
In these times of stark loss and need, that second dimension sustains us.
Eucharist is offered when we wash the feet of our sisters and brothers:
- by the medical and support personnel who tend and comfort the sick, who feed them, clean for them, pray for them
- by the sick themselves who endure in faith and hope
- by those who strive to keep others well
- by those who serve our essential needs for sustenance and safety
- by those who pray for the healing, courage and restoration of all Creation
- by each one of us as we turn from self toward the good of the whole
As Jesus leans to wash the feet of his disciples, so may we lean in service over our suffering world. Jesus asks us:
Do you realize what I, your Lord and Master, have done for you?
Not fully, Lord, but we are learning a new depth of understanding.
The realization rises like a slow dawn over the shadows of our selfishness. It is a sunrise which continues throughout our lives. Please help us to rise with You no matter how the darkness weighs on us.
Like the fragile bread and fluid wine which hide your Omnipotent Presence, may we become holy nourishment and joy for one another – a true and living memorial to your infinite act of love for us.
Music: Pange Lingua – Chant of the Mystics.
Written by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century
English lyrics below
Sing, my tongue, the Saviour’s glory,
Of His Flesh, the mystery sing;
Of the Blood, all price exceeding,
Shed by our Immortal King,
Destined, for the world’s redemption,
From a noble Womb to spring.
Of a pure and spotless Virgin
Born for us on earth below,
He, as Man, with man conversing,
Stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
Then He closed in solemn order
Wondrously His Life of woe.
On the night of that Last Supper,
Seated with His chosen band,
He, the Paschal Victim eating,
First fulfils the Law’s command;
Then as Food to all his brethren
Gives Himself with His own Hand.
Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
By His Word to Flesh He turns;
Wine into His Blood He changes:
What though sense no change discerns.
Only be the heart in earnest,
Faith her lesson quickly learns.
Down in adoration falling,
Lo, the sacred Host we hail,
Lo, o’er ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail:
Faith for all defects supplying,
When the feeble senses fail.
To the Everlasting Father
And the Son who comes on high
With the Holy Ghost proceeding
Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty.