Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26,  Gospel John 13:1-15


Holy Thursday commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood. The Eucharist is the food that God has generously made available to nourish us on our spiritual journey. The institution of the Holy Eucharist by Christ on Holy Thursday equally marks the institution of the ministerial priesthood. So, the priesthood is also God’s gift to his church. This means that it is God who freely calls. The mystical nature of the priesthood derives first, from the lives of Melchizedek and second from Christ. This mystical nature reaches its fullness at the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, and at every Mass. That is, the consecration of bread and wine, which is transformed into the real body and blood of Christ.

A The Institution of the Holy Eucharist


In the Gospel of John 13, the supper that Jesus shares with his disciples is not the Passover meal as it is in the Synoptic Gospels Matthew 26:17-25; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-13 that said that Jesus ate the last supper on the first day of unleavened bread. In this Gospel, Jesus will die on the Day of Preparation for the Passover (John 19:31) at the time that the Passover sacrifices begin in the temple. This is to show that Jesus is the lamb, the Passover Lamb, ”the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). Remember that in the first reading, God told Moses, that on the fourteenth day of the month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, the lamb shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. Bible exegets further explained that it was at the exact hour of killing this lamb of sacrifice by the evening twilight, that Jesus died on the cross. A sign that Jesus is the prefiguration of the Lamb without blemish, whose blood sprinkled at their doorposts saved them from the anger of God: When I see the blood I will pass over you (Exodus 12:13).


(i)This is My Body and Blood


In the context of the Passover meal, Jesus said a blessing as He took the unleavened bread and the cup of wine. “ Take all of you and eat, This is my body” given for you,” He said. For the wine, He said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” The word “this” is a reference to something. Jesus was raising a bread and not a flesh but said, “this bread is my body” A confirmation that the bread is no longer ordinarily bread but His flesh. He did the same to the wine. And said it will be shed for you. Remember He was saying that while raising a wine but was talking about His blood, a sign that the wine is not ordinary wine but His blood. This is an opener to those who joke with the Eucharist and those who do not make an attempt to receive the body of Christ, that they are truly denying themselves spiritual food, the body and blood of Christ. In John 6:53,Jesus says, if you do not eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.


(ii)Do This in Remembrance of Me.


Bidding his Apostles and through them us to eat and drink, he said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). It was to be a perpetual sacrifice, a sign that you are truly a disciple of Jesus Christ. The question then is when did you receive the Holy communion last?


(B) Institution of the Priesthood


The Last Supper was the first Mass and the first consecration of the Eucharist. It was also the only Mass where Jesus, visibly present, consecrated the Eucharist. Without the priesthood, there can be no Mass and no Eucharist. So by establishing the Sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus was also establishing the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The Command ``Do this in Remembrance of Me ”   was given to a group of men who were to continue this sacrificial offering and hence represent  Christ the Eternal Priest. The disciples handed this tradition from one generation to the other. Paul confirmed in the second reading that He also received the tradition. Every priest today stands as an alter Christus, another Christ, representing Christ the eternal priest. After the resurrection, Jesus then continues his ordination by giving the faculties to work to the same people he gave the command, `Do this in Remembrance of Me, He said to them again: “Peace to you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21). When He had said this, he breathed on them. And he said to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:22). Those whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and those whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” ( John {20:23). This power was given and handed down as it was given from Christ. That is why only the priest has the power to forgive sins. No one takes this honour upon Himself, He must be called by God (Hebrews 5:4). In the Second reading, Paul says,” I received from the Lord” With these few words, Paul establishes that he received his understanding of the Lord’s Supper from the Lord. He did not assume the power just like many do today.


(C) Love as Jesus Loved


William Gladstone, a member of the British parliament in the mid 1800s, announced the death of Princess Alice to the House of Commons. With the announcement he told this story. The little daughter of Princess Alice was seriously ill with diphtheria. The doctors told the princess not to kiss her little daughter because that would endanger her own life by breathing in the child’s breath.

Once when the child was struggling to breathe, the mother, forgetting herself entirely, took the little one into her arms to keep her from choking to death. Rasping and struggling for her life, the child said, “Mumma, kiss me!” Only thinking about her dying child and without a thought for herself the mother tenderly kissed her daughter. She got diphtheria and soon after Princess Alice died.

Real love forgets self. Real love knows no danger. Real love doesn’t count the cost. The Bible says, “Many waters can’t quench love, neither can floods drown it” (Song of Solomon 8:7).

Take note that love is not an option for the followers of Jesus. Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you”not a suggestion, not a recommendation. A commandment! This is not just a command to love like our mother or father but to love in the same way that Jesus loves us. Jesus said, “Love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another.” Notice the little word “must”. Just like you must wash your hands before eating”, likewise there is no way around this command of Jesus, “Love one another.”

This is why when Peter said to Jesus, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” and after the event, Jesus says to them “ I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”


Foot washing is not a tidy endeavor. People who walk barefoot or in sandals arrive with dust and dirt caked to their feet, smelling like sweaty feet smell. Foot washing was needed after a long journey but, in Peter’s mind and in the “wisdom of the day,” it was not to be done by the Master; it was the work of slaves or servants. Still, Jesus insisted (John 13:8), “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” The master set the standard for everyone. Real love forgets self. Real love knows no danger. Real love does not count the cost. The Bible says, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it” (Song of Solomon 8:7).



In washing their feet, Jesus was doing more than an act of hospitality; He was teaching them the impact of His suffering and death, to sacrifice and love each other the way He does, this is the only thing that makes us Christians. Imagine a master washing the feet of his or her maid, it can never happen, but what Jesus did is a pointer to all, never to look down on the person you think is not to your standard, never to use your position or resources as a means of intimidation but a means of upliftment and help. Secondly, In the institution of the Eucharist, we see an act of love where the son of man chose to be a bread so that all can have access to him both the rich and the poor, yet ,many denied Him, many do not want Him, many of us deserted this spiritual food, we are more concerned about the physical food than the spiritual food, He lowered himself and became a food for all yet, he was deserted. At the institution, Jesus become the eternal priest that offered himself for the good of all. What He did at the altar, He will also do at the cross. This is a sign of love, a sign of sacrifice. To fully be his own, we have to do the same to others.  We claim to love Jesus, and worship him, but we are filled up with hatred, jealousy and wickedness, envy, enmity, community quarrels, family disunity, and yet we claim to love Jesus Christ. Today is a call to forgive, love and serve as Jesus did. It is a call to wash the dirt of others than to make money out of their suffering. This is also a time to break ourselves and come to the presence of God for repentance that He may wash away our dirt.


The Heart of A Betrayer