Do This in Memory of Me

Catholic Standard photo/Michael Hoyt: A carving beneath the altar at St. Mary Church in Rockville depicts the Last Supper.

Today, Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, is a retelling of the story of God’s love, a love for each one of us individually. On Holy Thursday, we hear the story of the Passover meal in the Book of Exodus and then, in the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, how in that context, centuries later, Jesus established the new memorial at the Last Supper.

In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the relationship of the Last Supper to the events of our redemption is made explicit in the account of the institution of the Eucharist. “Do this in memory of me,” Jesus announces.

As we approach the altar of the Lord, we also rejoice in the recognition that God loves each one of us.

The great devotion we have for and exceptional care we show the Blessed Sacrament comes out of our profound faith that Jesus Christ is truly present, body and blood, soul and divinity after the consecration of the bread and wine.

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper also includes the ceremony of the washing of feet. What brings us to the table of the Lord is our love of the Lord, and what brings us to our knees to wash the feet of others is the recognition that we must see in one another Jesus Christ, and thus love one another.

The washing of the feet, like the Eucharist itself, is intended to help us once again hear the story of God’s love. Jesus washed the feet of his Apostles. This action simply reminds us that God loves each of us and in that love he calls us to love one another.

We are capable of showing love for others in many ways, maybe not as dramatically as washing their feet, but in a way that truly conveys compassion: by a word of forgiveness, by a gesture of welcome, by a sign of caring.

As we approach the altar and step forward to receive the Body and Blood of Christ with a profound act of faith, let us renew in our hearts the realization that Christ who washed the feet of his disciples is present to wash away anything that would keep us from being one with him or hinder us from sharing in the joy of his new and eternal life.