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Holy Thursday

“Why is this night different from all others?”

“Because once we were slaves…and we are slaves no longer.”

That is q&a dialog from the Jewish Passover. It was brilliantly used in Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion…”. The night before the Israelites won their freedom from slavery to Egypt and were delivered at the Red Sea, the Lord commanded that they sacrifice an unblemished lamb, sprinkle its blood on the door post and lintel, roast and eat it. Seeing the blood, the angel of death would pass over each house and their firstborn son would be spared.

Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples before… but tonight it was different. The Old Testament Passover is fulfilled and something new happens:

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
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.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

The Passover pointed to the Holy Eucharist which the Lord Jesus now institutes. He reaches into time and makes His Sacrifice present that night. He is the Passover Lamb. His Blood saves us. Unless we eat his Body and drink his Blood we have no Life in us (cf. John 6).  Jesus began the Holy Mass (the same Sacrifice of Calvary made present in an un-bloody manner) and the Priesthood on Holy Thursday as His farewell gift to us—so that he could truly be with us, and in us! until the end of time.

Tonight all the way into Good Friday, Jesus frees us from the worst kind of slavery—far more treacherous than slavery to the ancient Egyptians—slavery to sin, death and satan. He delivered us, victoriously with outstretched arms. The Cross is victory…the Blood on the wood of the doorpost—the Cross of Christ saves you and i from death and brings us into eternal life.

Something that really struck me from John 13 about Holy Thursday, the night before he died, was the line “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end”. It’s also moving to read how Jesus demonstrated “emptying himself and taking the form of a slave” in stooping down to wash the feet of the 12. The Lord and Master is giving example for the servant to follow.

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