By Kaelanne Jordan
“What we have is this night is different and special from other nights,” Archbishop Jason Gordon said in delivering the homily for The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday (April 9) at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
“Tonight, we celebrate what is most precious—the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of priesthood and the conviction of love which Jesus showed by His giving of Himself…His washing of the feet and showing the true love of leaders, His humble service.”
The mystery of Holy Thursday is one of “profundity”, a mystery of deep gratitude.
“I would like you to consider what God has done for you through His Son Jesus Christ. Consider the price He paid. We celebrate His crucifixion and His death. We remember it so we are thankful for what God has done for us,” Archbishop Gordon said.
The 6 p.m. Mass, which was livestreamed via catholictt.org and Trinity TV broadcasted priests from their respective chapels celebrating and offering Mass virtually for the people of God of Trinidad and Tobago.
Archbishop Gordon observed that until this time of COVID-19, persons thought they were okay, their lives were okay and we didn’t need God. “[But] now we seeing it very different,” he said.
He shared that this Holy Thursday is “very strange” for all the priests.
On Holy Thursday, priests commit and renew their promise to the priesthood and the priestly vows made on ordination.
The traditional washing of the feet on Holy Thursday during the Mass was omitted following restrictions due to COVID-19 but enacted in homes across the Archdiocese.
It is on Holy Thursday faithful remember the institution of the Eucharist, “that God gave Himself for us”.
Archbishop Gordon said that this desert of COVID-19 has forced us to ask the question ‘What do we celebrate when we celebrate the Eucharist?’. The “fast” from the Eucharist that we are experiencing is asking another question of us: ‘For what do we come to Church?’.
Whenever faithful celebrate the Eucharist, they remember the Passion and death of Jesus Christ.
The Archbishop said that on the day of the Last Supper, all of Jerusalem was in a frenzy to celebrate the Passover. According to a Jewish writer Josephus, lambs were slaughtered and and the body of the lamb displayed in cruciform (the form of the cross) in Jerusalem.
However, there was one “unblemished lamb” that was slaughtered—Jesus Christ.
The Archbishop invited faithful to follow the Blood during the Easter Triduum. To follow the blood he said, is to return to Egypt to the First Reading (Exodus 12: 1-8, 11-14) where the people were enslaved and God delivered them.
“In that deliverance, He said take an unblemished lamb, slaughter it. Take the blood and smear the doorposts of your houses and roast that lamb and gather your families around and eat all the lamb…..And God told the people every year I want you to remember.”
The word ‘memory’ the Archbishop said is not how we use memory in the Western world. It is a spiritual reenactment of “stepping” into the event as if persons were there in Egypt and if God personally delivered them Himself from slavery to a life of grace in the promised land.
Mass, the Archbishop said, is a celebration of thanksgiving and faithful should enter with grateful hearts to God and thank Him for what He has done for us.
To this end he invited faithful to reflect on their attitude and disposition toward the times they came to Mass unimpressed, uninvested and neither thankful nor grateful for what God has done for them.
The lit candles on the altar were removed and the altar stripped bare at the end of the Mass. The Mass was departed in silence to return for the continuation of the Triduum liturgy on Good Friday.