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Do This in Remembrance of Me
Holy Thursday Gospel Reflection 4/6/2023
For Catholics, Holy Thursday represents the Last Supper of Christ. It is also where the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood developed within the faith. The Last Supper took place during the celebration of Passover, and today's scripture reading is undoubtedly familiar to us as we hear the priest echo these words of Christ at every Mass.
"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." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes." (1 Cor 23-26)
Last week while I was teaching my class of sixth graders. I asked if anyone remembered why the Israelites celebrated Passover every year. I eventually got a solid answer, but I think sometimes we forget that during the first Passover, the Israelites were still seeking freedom from their slavery in Egypt. The Pharaoh was sent ten plagues and had many opportunities to free the Israelites, yet his heart and mind were hardened. Through the Passover event, the Israelites were given their freedom from the Pharaoh, allowing God's providence to take place.
"Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thereby, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you. This day will be a day of remembrance for you, which your future generations will celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD; you will celebrate it as a statute forever." (Ex 12:13-14)
The Israelites' freedom from Egypt was ordained by God, who guided them to the promised land. The journey was difficult, and we all celebrate the Israelites' courage to the promised land, but this is not at all the end of the story. "Today, we remember that Jesus has given us a new Passover at an even higher level. Jesus would pass over to the Father in heaven – and pass from death to eternal life."1 Holy Week reminds everyone that when we say Yes to Christ, we say Yes to life everlasting. He is the Messiah that the world awaited, and by His death, on the Cross, and Resurrection, He freed mankind from sin.
"He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (1 Col 13-14)
Today let us reflect on the gift of the Eucharist and the priesthood which God has given us. "It is his body, the holy sacrifice of every Mass, that gives us strength for us to journey with him and to pass over to the Father with him. We actually move with Jesus to heaven in a mystical way at this and every Eucharist."2