Thursday of the Holy Week
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Thursday of the Holy Week

Thursday of the Holy Week

Readings: Exo 12:1-8, 11-14; I Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15.

1/ Reading I: NAB Exodus 12:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 "This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. 4 If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. 5 The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. 7 They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. 8 That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 11 "This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the LORD. 12 For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt -- I, the LORD! 13 But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you. 14 This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”

2/ Reading II: NAB 1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, 24 and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

 

3/ Gospel: NAB John 13:1 Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, 3 fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, 4 he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Master, are you going to wash my feet?" 7 Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later." 8 Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me." 9 Simon Peter said to him, "Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well." 10 Jesus said to him, "Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all." 11 For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean." 12 So when he had washed their feet (and) put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? 13 You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. 14 If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. 15 I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.

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I. THEME: Jesus’ love for his apostles is expressed through his humble service.

           

            Human beings used to think that those in high position should not do lowly things, because if others see them doing that they shall despise them and their dignity shall be reduced. To increase their dignity, people want to do only the important and public things and refuse to do the lowly and unknown things.

            Today readings open our eyes to see God’s true love for human beings. Though He is the powerful God who creates and control all things in the universe, He lowers Himself to serve and to love all people who are ingratitude and unworthy of His love. In the first reading, since God, out of His love for the Israelites, wanted to liberate them from their slavery to the Egyptians, He bore them on eagles' wings and brought them to Himself (Exo 19:4). He also commanded them to annually celebrate the Passover to remember His love through the things He has done for them. In the second reading, Jesus was ready to sacrifice his body as the broken bread to nourish people, and his blood to take away people’s sins and to bring salvation for them. He also commanded them to celebrate the Last Supper to remember his love and to perpetuate his sacrifice. In the Gospel, Jesus taught his apostles the humble and lasting love lesson by washing their feet. He also commanded them, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet.”

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The Jewish Passover

            The Passover is the most solemn in three Jewish feasts. It is done to memorize the Exodus event in which God used His power to punish king Pharaoh and the Egyptians, liberated the Israelites from their slavery and led them to the Promise Land. God commanded the Israelites when they reached the Promise Land: “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution.” There are many similarities between the Jewish and Christ’s Passover. A study of the Jewish Passover is necessary to understand Christ’s Passover.

1.1/ The Passover’s lambs: According to the passage, the day to celebrate the Jewish Passover is April (Nissan) 15: “This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year... You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.”

            (1) Each family should have a lamb: “On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.” A lamb is a young and male sheep.

            (2) The quality of the Passover’s lamb: “The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb.”

            (3) The Passover’s meal: “That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.”

1.2/ The way to celebrate the Passover: God commanded the Israelites to eat the Passover meal as follows: “This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the Lord. For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt -- I, the Lord! But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.”

            Our life is also the passover, from this to the next world. Like the Israelites, we are easy to be tempted by the devil to be content with this material world, and to forget about the next lasting world. To avoid this temptation, we should do two important things:

            (1) We should always be prepared to go to our Father’s house by refusing to accumulate for ourselves too many material things because they prevent us to be on the road to our Father.

            (2) We should always have Jesus’ blood in our heart: This blood is the sign for God’s angels to recognize who we are and not to destroy us. Paricipating holy Mass and frequently receiving Communion guarantee us from being destroyed for ever.

2/ Reading II: Jesus’ Paschal Sacrifice

            In God’s plan of salvation, the Passover of the Old Testament is the figure of Christ’s Passover. When Christ knew that it is the time for him to pass over from this world to return to God, he showed his deepest love for people by doing two main things.

2.1/ To sacrifice his body to redeem people’s sins: In the Jewish Passover, the lamb’s blood on the doorposts and the lentils had the power to prevent God’s angels to kill the Israelites’ firstborns, and the lamb’s meat provided them strength to pass over the Red Sea to the Promise Land. Similarly, Christ’s blood has power to forgive all people’s sins and his body provides people strength to overcome all obstacles of life to enter heaven, the true Promise Land.

2.2/ To institute the Sacrament of the Eucharist: The main purpose when Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist is to continue his presence amongst people. The Last Supper was celebrated at the time of the Jewish Passover, and Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist in the Last Supper. We can see many similar things between the Passover meal and the Last Supper:

            (1) The Unleaven Bread is the figure of Christ’s body: St. Paul briefly reported Jesus’ first act, “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."”

            (2) The lamb’s blood is the figure of Christ’s blood: “In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”

            As God commanded the Israelites to perpetuate the Passover every year, Jesus also commanded his apostles to perpetuate the Last Supper often to announce his death and to enjoy benefits from his Passion and Death.

 

3/ Gospel: Jesus humbly washed his apostles’ feet.

3.1/ Jesus foreknew and prepared for everythings: The evangelist John reported three things which Jesus clearly knew before his Passion.

            (1) He knew the hour he shall come back to his Father: “Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father.”

            (2) He knew that it is the time for him to say goodbye to his apostles: “He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.”

            (3) He knew that the hour of salvation is about to happen: He “fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power.”

3.2/ Jesus washed his disciples’ feet: These three things urged Jesus to express his love for the apostles in a way which they never think of it: “He rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.”

            (1) Peter’s reaction: Like many others, Peter thought that Jesus is his Lord and master, Jesus can’t lower himself to do the work of a servant; when Jesus did so, he lowered himself as a servant. Peter said to him: "Master, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet."

            (2) Jesus’ explannation: Jesus answered him, "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well." Jesus said to him, "Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all." For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean."

            Many commentaties see this washing of feet as the symbol of Baptism: people need to be clean from sins before they can enjoy eternal happiness with Jesus.

3.3/ Jesus explained his action to the apostles: When he had washed their feet (and) put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

            Washing feet is a servant’s job. Jesus did the servant’s work to serve his apostles. He wanted to teach them that there is no lowly work; if they want to show their love for God and others, they should do that work. There always exists a contrast between God’s and human way. When human beings want to become great, they avoid to do small things; while God teaches them to do small things to become great.

            This must be the secret to success which Jesus wanted to teach people: to set a good example by doing small things is the best way of education. If leaders and parents want to be successful in educating their followers, they should set good examples for them by doing small things. Parents rarely have opportunity to die for their children; but they have plenty of opportunies to sacrifice small things, such as: yielding good food for them; taking care of them when they are sick; consoling them when they are sad. These works have the same value as the great works.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - Let imitate God and Jesus to love everybody until the end. We should not love half-way since it shows our unfaithfullness and wastes our time. None is perfect, even ourselves; why do we keep looking for a perfect one to love?

            - Leading by love and serve, not by command and demand, is the most effective way. When people recognize that they were loved and cared for, they shall follow the leader to the end.

            - There isn’t a lowly work, but a lowly person. If we want others to do that work, we should do first. We should often celebrate the Passover and wash the others’ feet so that we shall not forget what is the true love.

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