13th April 2017

Holy Thursday

Homily

For two thousand years we have celebrated Holy Mass, unchanged in its essentials, for the reasons St Paul gives us in the second reading. It is The Lord's command, given and handed on from one generation to the next. We do what The Lord did in memory of His sacrifice on the cross and in doing that we offer to the Father what he has given us, the gifts of his creation, bread and wine, which, by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the words of Christ become the greatest gift he has given us, Christ himself.

Doing what Jesus commands makes present his passion, death and resurrection, the one sacrifice which has won our salvation. At mass, together with the whole church, each of us offer to the Father, the One who offers himself for us on the cross. All our lives, our prayers, our gratitude, our difficulties and our sufferings are united with Christ's offering to the Father and so become part of that total offering which brings salvation to the world. And not just the lives of those on earth but the lives of our Blessed Lady and of all the saints as well are part of this offering.

This is one of the reasons for the priesthood, why we consider the apostles at the last supper to be the first priests. The Mass, is given to us, it is not ours, not something we do, but something Christ does. No one can just do it. Men, often profoundly inadequate, are ordained as Priests, as signs that only by God's grace and gift can Mass be offered. Not because of any value or gifts or holiness of those men but because they have been chosen by the church.

But the priest, because he is chosen, has the obligation to grow in holiness to centre his life on the sacrifice of Christ in the Mass as do each of you who share in the offering of Christ's sacrifice to the Father. The Lord who has died and risen gives himself to us in Holy Communion precisely as the one sacrificed for us, he unites us with him, taking away venial sins, deepening our love for him, strengthening the gifts of faith, hope and charity, we received in baptism and deepening our communion, our unity and love with all the members of the church.

This love, this charity, is most fully revealed by Christ on the cross. It is a love which expresses itself in service. In the gift of self for the sake of another. So many of you in different ways will be living this service. Mums and Dads caring for your children. From Washing and changing them at home, worrying about them to doing a boring job to earn money for their food. Children caring for ageing parents. Teachers, Medical staff, students, studying now so you can be of service to others later, elderly people giving up hours each day in prayer for others, those who care for the poor and hungry. So many ways. Even being poorly can be a service. For our illness, our service, our love, whatever it may be, our life, is a journey, a travelling with Jesus centred on and united to and contemplating his perfect service of love and service, so that our life becomes a sacrifice life which brings salvation to the world. This perspective is at the heart of our procession and watching at the end of mass.