Chrism Mass Commentary
Thursday, 4/1/2021, Holy Thursday
The Anniversary of the Priesthood
First Reading Commentary: Isaiah 61:1-3a, 6a, 8b-9
In today’s first reading, Isaiah talks about the mission to the afflicted and the reward to Israel, but Isaiah is also making a prophecy of the priesthood. It is on this day that Christ conferred the priesthood on the Apostles at the Last Supper and today’s priests and bishops are their successors.
Because this is the anniversary of the priesthood, all priest and bishops go to their mother church, which is the cathedral of their diocese or archdiocese, to renew their vows as priests. Today’s priests are called to fulfill the directives contained within the prophecy of Isaiah. These directives were also given by Christ to the Apostles many times and in many ways.
Priests are called to bring glad tidings by proclaiming the Gospel. Through the Sacrament of Confession, they are called to proclaim liberty to those who are captives and prisoners to sin. Priests are called to proclaim the promise of the Kingdom of Heaven and to anoint the people with oils of gladness. These are the oils which are used in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, the Sacrament of the Sick (Last Rights) and Holy Orders.
There is a saying, “Once a priest; always a priest.” That is because of the covenant which is made between them and God through the vows which they take when they receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Our priests are human and make mistakes just like the rest of us. The Apostles were no different but, like the Apostles, our priests are committed to spreading God’s Word and doing God’s Will. So, as we celebrate the anniversary of the priesthood, we also say, “Thank you” to our priests because being a priest during these challenging times is no easy job.
Jesus Christ Is Lord and King
Second Reading Commentary: Revelation 1:5-8 &
Gospel Commentary Luke 4:16-21
According, to what was His custom, Christ went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. While there, He opened up the scroll and read the Scripture: The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. After reading from the scroll, Christ sat down and said, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Try to clear your mind of everything we know today and imagine being there in that synagogue almost two thousand years ago listening to Jesus read this Scripture proclaiming that He is the anointed one. What would you think? Would you think that He was crazy? Would you think that He had some nerve to put Himself on such a pedestal? Or would you believe in Him? These are the things that went through the minds of the people who were there and most of them did not believe.
Christ did recover the sight to the blind as well as other great works of healing. He even drove demons out of people. Indeed, Christ did everything which the Scripture said He would do.
As we get closer to the day that Christ gave His life for us on the cross, these readings give us a wonderful opportunity to stop and think of the great things that Christ did in His public ministry on earth during the last three years of His life. We are given an opportunity to meditate on the miracles that Christ performed and the teachings that He gave especially when He taught us how to pray by giving us The Lord’s Prayer. And let us not forget The Sermon on the Mount where Christ delivered the Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven giving us the Beatitudes.
This is a time for us to stop and think about how Christ called His disciples and made them the first priests and bishops of His Church. This is a time to stop and think of Peter who, despite his brokenness, would become the rock on which the Church would be built. This is a time for us to stop and think of the history of the Church in particular, the origin and the roots of the Church.
This is a time for us to remember that Christ was born a Jew, lived His life as a Jew, prayed as a Jew and was a descendant of the Israelites in the bloodline of Abraham and David. All of this was just as the Father had promised Abraham.
This is a time for Catholics everywhere to stop for a moment to remember that their Church has Its roots in Judaism and comes from Jesus Christ Himself, totally and completely, and no other religion or denomination of Christianity can make such a claim and back it up. Yes, the church has its problems but every one of them is a result of human error. God does not make mistakes, Christ does not make mistakes, but we do. It is not God’s fault that there are problems within our Church. It is our fault. Some people who know me have heard me say this before, "Don't let human error stand in the way of your faith."
This is a time for Catholics around the world to remember that the Church is the people so they should make themselves a part of the solution and fix the problems within the Church. To do this, Catholics must bring themselves ever closer to their Church instead of running away. Remember what we learned a few days ago, you can’t be shamed when God is on your side, therefore, Catholics should ignore the persecution which the Church receives and Catholics should live their lives according to the Church’s teaching.
Strength can be found in the Beatitude: “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.” Matthew 5:11
Today’s second reading from the book of Revelation, gives praise and honor to Jesus Christ who is ruler of the kings of the earth. The Lord, God says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the one who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Don’t try to understand what God says here. The human mind can’t make since of such a concept. All we can do is use the gift of faith. Why, because it does make since to realize that everything that is, was and is yet to come, came from something infinitely greater than ourselves and that is the Almighty.
Mass of the Lord’s Supper Commentary
The Passover Is About Love
First Reading Commentary: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 &
Second Reading Commentary 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
God gave Moses and Aaron the law of how to partake in the Passover meal. God told them how to prepare the lamb and how to eat it. God also told them to apply some of the blood of the lamb on their doorposts and the lintel of every house. Then God said, “It is the Passover of the LORD. For on this same night, I will go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn of the land…executing judgment of all the gods of Egypt…But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you…thus no destructive blow will come over you…This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate…”
The Passover is still celebrated today as God commanded—well, sort of. If the Passover was celebrated today exactly as God commanded Moses, Jews and Christians would all celebrate the Passover in the same way and that way would follow God’s instructions to the letter. But such is not the case.
Nevertheless, the tradition is upheld by, both devout Jews and devout Christians. The tradition is also upheld by those who wish to remember the Passover of the LORD which spared the Jews from the destruction which the LORD brought upon the Egyptians who did not believe in the Lord and persecuted the Jews. The Passover is also celebrated to remember the exodus of the Jews from their slavery in Egypt and their Passover into the Promised Land of Jerusalem.
For Christians and Catholics, celebrating the Passover is also to remember the Passover of Christ who made Himself the sacrificial lamb when He gave His life on the Cross for the destruction of sin. The Passover is a time to remember that we are rescued from the bondage of sin and that as believers, we ourselves will Passover into the Kingdom of Heaven. And we celebrate the Passover to remember that when Christ Passed over, He defeated death with His Glorious Resurrection.
The celebration of the Mass is a reliving of the Last Supper which was a Passover meal. Therefore, we celebrate the Passover at every Mass but in a special way on this night because it is the anniversary of the first “Supper of the Lord”, His Last Supper.
No Service—No Heaven
Gospel Commentary: John 13:1-15
At the Last Supper, Jesus said to the disciples, “love one another as I have loved you.” John 13:34 Jesus demonstrates this love by washing the feet of the disciples. Peter, who did not want to have his feet washed and had a way of speaking without thinking first, said to Jesus, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus told Peter, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Then Peter wanted to have his hands, head and feet washed.
Let’s stop and think about this. Peter was too proud to have his feet washed until Jesus told him what he would loose. What would you do if Jesus was in front of you and offered to wash your feet? If Jesus, the Son in the Trinity, God Himself, can demonstrate such extreme humility then we should be able to serve each other. Christ spent His life helping others, died for the sake of helping all of mankind; does not give up on helping us and on this night, He demonstrates, in a physical way, that there is nothing that He will not do for us.
None of us like to take direction from someone who does not practice what they preach. We would much rather take direction from someone who is willing to do the things which they ask us to do. Christ is asking that we love each other and serve each other because of the love that we have for each other and we should learn from Peter’s action, the lesson of not letting pride get in the way.
Indeed, that is the lesson which Jesus teaches after He has washed the feet of the Apostles when He says, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” It is not about washing feet. It is about treating people no matter how low their place may be in society, with dignity and respect from the heart. It is about helping those in need and turning your back on no one. It is about obeying the commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Outside of loving God with everything you have, loving your neighbor as yourself is indeed the most important thing for us to do. Why else would Jesus go to such an extreme to teach this lesson at His Last Passover meal? Why else would He give His life for us on the Cross?
The first Passover happened because God the Father loved the Israelites. The Passover of Jesus happened because God the Father loves the world so much that He sent His Son to lead us to the Promised Land of heaven and to even make Himself the Lamb. But we cannot follow the Son unless we obey the commandment that He gave at the Last Supper—to serve each other as He has served us.