1st Reading: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. “This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the Lord. For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the Lord! But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you. “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution.”
2nd Reading: 1Cor 11:23-26
Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that 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.
Gospel: Jn 13:1-15
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world, and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.” So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
Ready to Serve All: Before the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood at the Last Supper, Jesus took off his outer garments, took a towel and tied it around his waist (John 13:4). A towel is a symbol of service. Tying it around one’s waist is a sign of readiness to serve. Jesus tied a towel around his waist then went to wash his disciples’ feet. After washing their feet, we are not told that he untied the towel; he put his outer garments back on and reclined at the table (John 13:12). Leaving the towel on is a sign of always being ready to serve. Receiving the Eucharist is being one with Jesus, which means being ready to serve others. Also, the sacrament of Priesthood is one of serving others. Jesus served without discrimination. He washed all including the one who was going to betray him. Whoever discriminates against others is not worthy of the Eucharist or the priesthood.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to serve all people without discrimination. Amen.
WHAT A MEAL! At the Last Supper, Jesus gave his disciples the bread and wine as his body and blood. This is the perfect representation of the Passover through which Jews had been saved from Egypt. It is what Christians need to commemorate each day in memory of Jesus. It is the perfect union with Christ in the Eucharist. Through this perfect self-giving, Jesus teaches the apostles the true meaning of His sacrifice for our salvation. The bread and wine of the Eucharist, presents Jesus giving himself up to die on the cross, as perfect love for us. This is Christ’s desire that we receive Eternal Life. Through this meal we are united with God. To receive and enjoy the benefits of this meal, let us accept Jesus in what he says and does.
I HAVE GIVEN YOU AN EXAMPLE: Every religious group appreciates the value of group rituals. These rituals normally remind the members of the founding event and source of their group identity. Jesus institutes the Eucharist so as to give his followers a reminder of their identity. The followers of Christ receive their identity from his own self-offering. Just as the Hebrew people take the exodus to be the founding event as a people of God, so do the Christians take the Eucharist as the sign of being “a restored people” of God. The Eucharist is not a historical monument but a living event which invites the participants to learn from what Jesus is doing in it. He gives us an example to emulate. This consists in doing what he has done: he has shown himself to be a servant and has offered his life. Christians are called to loving service of one another. Am I ready to serve?
TANTUM ERGO SACRAMENTUM (THIS UNIQUE MYSTERY): Liturgy of today commemorates three important events: the beginning of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus; the institution of the Holy Orders; and the institution of the Eucharist. These three are captured in the readings. In addition, the gospel text reminds us that the Eucharist has a dimension of communitarian service. Therefore, it is also a day to reflect on the mystery of the Eucharist. In the hymn Tantum Ergo by St Thomas Aquinas, sang at the end of Eucharistic adorations, there are two lines: Praestet fides supplementum, Sensuum defectui. This means, “let the defect in the senses be completed by faith.” During the Eucharistic celebration, bread and wine undergo change to become the body and blood of Christ. This change cannot be perceived by the senses. This gap in the senses can only be filled by our faith. As we spend time in adoration after this mass, let us continue to contemplate this mystery.