Then the dread words. “My body given for you. My blood poured out for you.”
As I say these words of the Lord, I am acutely aware at every Mass that I cannot seriously say them unless I am willing to have my body broken, my blood poured out on the cross of my everyday life. How can I say them and not be willing to lose my life, not in bloody martyrdom but in the demands of everyday life? If not, they just become empty words lasting mere seconds on my lips.
The person asking for food at an inconvenient time, the one who wants confession just as I am hoping to have lunch, the phone call that comes when I would rather it didn’t.
But this is where my sacrifice lies, where the path to holiness runs, where the imitation of Christ is to be found. At the moment of inconvenience, at the point of tiredness—this is where and when I must do this in memory of Him.
It would be easy for me to preside at Mass every day and repeat the words as if just repeating them were enough to do it in memory of Him. But if my life is to be laid down, if I am to be like Christ, truly doing it in memory of Him, then my body too must be broken, my blood poured out.
If my washing of others’ feet on Holy Thursday is to be more than a piece of theatre or a museum piece then on the other 364 days of the year I must wash feet in memory of Him.
It is not easy and often I fail but there in front of me is the mercy and the grace of God, and I say, as St Francis de Sales advised, “Come now, my soul, you can do better”.
Msgr Michael de Verteuil is the chairman of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission, and moderator of the Sangre Grande/Coryal/Toco/Matelot cluster.