The meaning of Holy Thursday

Beloved in Christ,
tonight is Holy Thursday. Here, we remember the Last Supper in which Jesus gave us the two sacraments of the Holy Mass, and the Priesthood.
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The Last Supper was the first Mass; it was there that Christ took bread and said, ‘This is my Body.’ And he took the chalice, ‘This is my Blood.’  This is what we call the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Mass, the Divine Liturgy, the Breaking of the Bread, the Holy Sacrifice – and we continue to faithfully do this down to the present day.
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If you read about the first Christians, you will see that they were doing exactly what we do; they believed exactly as we believe.  In the year 152 for example, Justin Martyr said: ‘We call this food Eucharist; and no one is permitted to partake of it except one who believes our teaching……Made into the Eucharist by the Eucharist prayer…. it is the flesh and blood of that Incarnate Jesus.’  So Jesus gives us the Mass.
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Also on this night, he gives us the Priesthood.
‘Do this,’ he told the Apostles – his first priests. ‘Do this in memory of me,’ keep doing it. And so we do.
‘Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them.’ ‘He who hears you, hears me.’ Our Lord sent his priests to continue his work on earth, forgiving sins, baptizing, teaching, and most importantly, feeding his lambs with the Bread of Life, so that they can go to heaven.
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During the Last Supper, Christ knelt down and washed the feet of his Apostles; he did this to teach them, that they must be humble priests; we also re-live that on Holy Thursday, when those dressed as Apostles have their feet washed.
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After the Last Supper, Christ and is disciples left the Upper Room and went to pray at a Garden, the Garden of Gethsemane. There Our Lord saw all the sins and evils and horror that will ever happen, and he took it upon himself. It was so intense that he sweated blood through his skin; doctors say such a thing happens only under acute conditions of extreme stress. But even then, as Jesus prayed, his disciples fell asleep; ‘Could you not pray just one hour with me?’, he asked.
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Well, tonight at the end of Mass, our procession will follow Jesus, as we go to a garden. We will go to the Garden to pray with the Lord, to keep him company as he begins his journey to the Cross.
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These sacred days reveal the great love of Christ for us. St. Augustine says, that in order to captivate the hearts of men,[i] God has cast several darts of love into their hearts. He has given us the beautiful world, animals, forests, birds and seas – he has tried to lure us by many ways to love him.
Cardinal Hugo says, the sportsman keeps in reserve his best arrow for the last shot, in order to secure his prey; so did God keep Jesus in reserve until the fullness of time, and then he sent Him as a last arrow, to wound with love the hearts of men.

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[i] The Incarnation, Birth, and Infancy of Jesus Christ, p. 89-90

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