When someone we love says goodbye to us, we sometimes exchange gifts. This gift helps us to have good memories of the shared time. Tonight we celebrate the exchange of a gift that surpasses any other. Christ the Son of God gives us the gift of himself. He does this in three ways: the Eucharist, the Priesthood, and the command to love and serve.
On the eve of Passover, Jesus gives us His Body and Blood as the spiritual food that sustains His Church. He commands: “Do this in remembrance of me,” because we must celebrate the Eucharist and thus enjoy his presence among us. For us here, as for the twelve in the upper room, this sacrificial banquet takes place in the shadow of the Cross. The body and blood which Christ first consecrated and shared in the upper room are the body and blood to be offered on Calvary. The Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, these three events can be seen as the three components of the same mystery.
This same night, as in the second reading, Christ the High Priest institutes the priesthood so that the Eucharist may be celebrated and his life in the Church may be made present. “Do this in memory of me”. When He gave this command to the Apostles to celebrate His sacrifice, He also gave them the power to carry out their Eucharistic vocation. The Last Supper was not only the first Mass, but it was also the first ordination, the start of the Catholic priesthood whose task it would be to guard and dispense the Eucharistic mystery until the end of time. In giving the Apostles this word of command, Our Lord in the same moment raised them to the sacred priesthood, a new priesthood, one that had nothing to do with the blood of animals, but a new priesthood ordained to offer the living blood of Jesus Christ Himself. This is the Precious Blood which flows every time and in every place that Holy Mass is offered.
Third, as we have heard in the Gospel, it gives us a command to love one another. He gives us the example of loving service by washing the feet of His disciples. In a few moments that humility same will itself be commemorated when the celebrant washes the feet of twelve disciples, in humble imitation of the Master. He washes the feet of His disciples and commands us to do the same. This action makes it clear to us that we are called as Christians to imitate Jesus in love and service for one another. The significance of this event is that when we serve others in humility and love, we make Christ present. That is why we say that where there is charity and love there is the Lord.
Therefore, we see how wonderful Christ’s gift is to us. For, although the gifts we exchange can easily be forgotten, his three-dimensional gift of self remains always real, always present, and powerful forever. When we celebrate the Eucharist and serve one another in love, Christ is truly present.
Let us pray: Lord, strip us of the carving for prestige, position, wealth, and privileges. Root out of us all traces of envy of our neighbour who has more than us. Release us from the vice of pride, our longing to exalt ourselves. Teach us that there is something called humility. May we be poor in spirit, Lord.