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032416 Holy Thursday Summary - Fr. Reggie

The ceremony we are celebrating today, on Holy Thursday, puts us in contact with three thousand and five hundred years of salvation history.

With this Mass, we are obeying the command Jesus gave at the Last Supper, as recalled in today's Second Reading: "Do this in remembrance of me."

And at that Last Supper, two thousand years ago, Jesus was giving a new meaning to a ceremonial meal that the Jews had celebrated ever since the time of Moses, in 1500 BC - the Passover. The Passover celebration was a holy day that God himself had established, as tonight's First Reading recalled. God had commanded the ancient Israelites to celebrate Passover so that they would never forget all that God had done for them: freeing them from slavery in Egypt and leading them to the Promised Land. The Passover was a remembrance of that, but it was a sacred remembrance, so it also renewed the Chosen People's special relationship with their God.

In a similar way, Jesus commanded his Church to continue ordaining priests and celebrating the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a remembrance of his work of redemption, by which he saved us from sin and opened the way for us to enter into eternal life. And as a sacred remembrance, it also makes present Christ's everlasting sacrifice. Our liturgy is not just a photograph of a past event; it draws aside the curtain of time and space so that that past event is actually made present among us today.

Why is God so intent on reminding us of all that he has done for us?

For two reasons.

We need to be reminded of God's immense love that sacrificed his own Son in order to redeem us, because the challenges of life tend to give us tunnel vision. Let's face it; life is tough. We have many joys and delights, but they don't eliminate our crosses. We live in a fallen world, a world full of injustice, hardship, and loss. And it hurts sometimes; sometimes it hurts a lot. And we ourselves are fallen human beings. We lose our tempers, give into temptations, get involved in things we shouldn't - when we do these things, we add to our own misery, and to the misery of those around us. And in the midst of all these difficulties and tough situations, it is hard to remember the bigger picture - that God never gives up on us and that he can turn our Good Fridays into Easter Sundays.

That's one reason why we need reminders, like the reminder of tonight's beautiful liturgy.

Life's challenges give us tunnel vision; we become so preoccupied by the storms of life that we forget that we belong to the Lord of the storm.

So God gives us reminders, like the Eucharist, like tonight's liturgy.

But there is also another reason why we need regular and constant reminders: we are not good listeners. God sends us reminders of his goodness and wisdom all the time: the beauties of nature, the beauty of art and music, the joy of friendship and being cared for by others, the delight of a job well done...Everything around us that is good is, in a little way, a mirror of God's generous love and mercy. We are surrounded by these reminders.

But we don't listen to them very well. Just think about how easily we become distracted whenever we try to pray. Hearing God's word in our heart gives us comfort and courage, but it also usually invites us to change, to live a more Christ-like life. And that is not always easy. So we prefer to keep the radio on, to keep our headphones in our ears, to keep chatting away on the cell phone. And even when we want to listen, the noise that we have surrounded ourselves with us makes it hard.

God has to fight through all this noise to make his voice heard.

The more reminders he gives us, the better chance he has of getting our attention.

This liturgy tonight is one of the most beautiful and attention-getting reminders he has given us.


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