Holy Thursday marks the end of the Lenten season. I hope this Lent has been a very positive one for you that through your prayers, fasting, acts of reconciliation and helping the less fortunate, your faith has been enriched and that you are now more excited to serve our Lord.
On Holy Thursday we celebrate the many gifts and facets of our Catholic faith. By Catholic faith I mean the universal faith that calls all people to God himself. Our gathering this evening starts right off with recognizing these gifts as the Holy Oils are presented. The Holy Oils remind us of course of the sacraments those moments of personal encounter with God that transform, heal, and leads us more deeply into the mystery of God‘s love. The Holy Oils also represent how God through the gifts of the Holy Spirit uses all of our senses to help us to better understand and to experience the richness of His Being. This richness of sensory experience surrounds us in this beautiful worship space, is enhanced by the beautiful linens and vestments, by the candles, the fragrance of the flowers and incense, wine and bread that is transformed into the body and blood of Christ and the chambers of this hall filled with glorious and beautiful music. This celebration of our senses by God emphasizes the beauty of what it means to be a human being when we are United to him.
Holy Thursday is also the night when we celebrate the washing of the feet which is a symbol of service most often associated with Holy Orders and the living out of consecrated life. As a baptize people we are all called to be Priest,Prophet and King but some of us have the wonderful privilege to serve God and his community in some very intimate ways. Through our ordinations Father Mark and I share in this wonderful gift of consecrated service to the people of God.Ordination into the priesthood takes this ministry of service one step further by adding to it the charism of sacrifice. That a priest gives all that he has to the service of God. It is through the gift of priesthood that we have the Bishops, the Cardinals, the magisterium and the Pope whose mission is be stewards of the gifts of God and to make sure that we the people of God stay true to what God has instructed.
Linked with the priesthood we celebrate tonight our most treasured gift, the Institution of the Eucharist.Jesus told us that he would be with us even to the end of the age. The Eucharist is the mechanism by which Jesus remains present and fully alive in creation. Through this wonderful gift of the altar we not only have a chance to see with our eyes and touch with our hand the very flesh and blood of Jesus himself but he invites to consume him so that he may travel with us out into the world.Through this most sacred gift our own bodies become living vessels that carry Christ out into our communities and the world so that we get to share in his most holy ministry.
My brothers and sisters as we celebrate these gifts and move through the Triduum may our love for God be ever deepened, our desire to serve be renewed and our hearts be filled with joy for the celebration of Easter that awaits us.