Thursday, April 05, 2007

B16 on Holy Thursday

It's my yearly routine to spend a lot of time today getting everything ready for tonight's Mass of the Lord's Supper. I've learned that it's easier and less stressful to set everything up little by little over the course of the day than it is to wait until about an hour beforehand and go into a nervous panic. In the meantime, though, here are two bits of Pope Benedict's previous writings on the meaning of this first day of the Easter Triduum:

"The Liturgy for Holy Thursday has a uniquely twofold orientation. On one hand, the Gloria expresses the joy of the redeemed, who on this day celebrate the victory of the love of Jesus Christ, who has given us the gift of all gifts - himself. But at the same time there is the gradually increasing silence, the eventual emptying of the church, the removal of the Blessed Sacrament. Both orientations correspond to the events of the first Holy Thursday."

"Let us cast a glance at the incredible scene that St. John unfolds before us in his account of the washing of the feet in chapter 13 of his Gospel. In this scene, the evangelist summarizes, as it were, everything about Jesus: his word, his life, his Passion. We see, as in a vision, what the whole is like. In the washing of the feet, we catch a glimpse of what Jesus does and what he is. He, who is the Lord, stoops to our level. He lays aside the robes of his kingship and becomes a slave, standing at the door and performing the duty of a slave - the washing of the feet. That is the meaning of his whole life and Passion: that he bends to wash our dusty feet, to wash away the dust of humanity, and, in his exceedingly great love, washes us clean. ... He wears, so to speak, the garment of our wretchedness and, by taking us with him, makes us fit to stand in the presence of God; we have gained access to God. We are washed by letting ourselves be drawn into his love. This love means that God receives us unconditionally even when we are not capable and are not worthy of it, because he, Jesus Christ, transforms us and becomes our Brother."

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