There’s the common question, what would you want to have as your last ever meal? Typically, people would pick a dish they can’t live without, others might choose a restaurant associated with fond memories with their favourite people. In some way, Jesus’ Last Supper had both attributes – bread and wine with his closest friends.
The celebration of Holy Thursday is the first of the three nights in the Catholic tradition of the Easter Triduum. Its significance is the commemoration of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and most especially, the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. How humble and intimate was this act of service to wash the dirty and sore feet of his disciples who would have only worn sandals in sandy and muddy grounds. This is one of many examples of Jesus’ servant leadership which we are all called to.
This year, Catholic Outlook attended Holy Thursday Mass at 7pm at Our Lady of Angels Parish, Rouse Hill, on 6 April. There were no seats left empty as pews downstairs and upstairs, even the back walls and foyer, were filled with people. Echoes of church bells rang throughout the Gloria hymn sending goosebumps of awe and marking the fact that this Mass was different.
12 parishioners rose from the crowd and approached the steps before the altar and sat in a line. Parish Priest Fr Carlos Walker, acting as the person of Jesus, proceeded to gently and quietly wash their feet with water, towel-dry and kiss their foot. It was very moving. “A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another, as I have loved you,” the choir sang. You can’t but help put yourself in their position then reflect that wow, this is how Jesus leads and loves us.
In his homily, Assistant Priest Fr Omar Mazzega quoted Pope St John Paul II’s letter to Priests on Holy Thursday written at the Upper Room:
“Jesus, ‘having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end’ (Jn 13:1)… I am deeply moved as I read once again the words with which the Evangelist John introduces the account of the Last Supper… I think of Peter especially: it is as if I can see him, with the other disciples, watching in amazement the Lord’s actions, listening with deep emotion to his words and, for all the burden of his frailty, opening himself to the mystery proclaimed here and soon to be accomplished.”
“May we always celebrate the Holy Eucharist with fervour. May we dwell long and often in adoration before Christ in the Eucharist. May we sit at the ‘school’ of the Eucharist. Through the centuries, countless priests have found in the Eucharist the consolation promised by Jesus on the evening of the Last Supper, the secret to overcoming their solitude, the strength to bear their sufferings, the nourishment to make a new beginning after every discouragement, and the inner energy to bolster their decision to remain faithful…,” Fr Omar recounted.
The night ended with the procession of the Eucharist from the tabernacle into the parish hall for Eucharistic Adoration. This is also known as the Altar of Repose where people would pray, genuflect and reflect that on Holy Thursday “it was here that Christ gave us the immense gift of the Eucharist”. (Pope St John Paul II, 2000).
To learn more about the Catholic faith and tradition, register for a diocesan ‘FaithLife’ course here: https://pfparra.org.au/faithlife/
Read Pope St John Paul II’s letter to Priests for Holy Thursday as Fr Omar quoted in full here: https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/2000/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_20000330_priests.html
View images from Holy Thursday commemorations at Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Rouse Hill here or below:
Raimie Caramancion is a member of the Diocese’s Parish Support Team and a freelance writer.