My dear people of God, Christ fulfilled His work of redeeming humanity and giving perfect glory to God, especially by His paschal mystery. Dying He destroyed our death and rising He restored our life.
And so, the Easter Triduum of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection is the climax of the whole Liturgical year. It begins with this evening’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper, continues with the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, a day of fasting and abstinence, and reaching its climax with the Easter Vigil, the mass of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In this evening Mass, we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist. Jesus while he was eating with his disciples took bread and gave thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said, “take this all of you and eat it, for this is my body which will be given up for you.” Similarly, when supper was ended, he took the chalice filled with wine and having given thanks, said, “take it all of you and drink, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, which will be poured out for you and many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.”
Jesus did many good works, but only once did he say do this in memory of me. This was after instituting the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we re-live the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you take out the Eucharist from the Church, that Church ceases to be a Catholic Church. Today too, we commemorate the institution of the Ministerial Priesthood. Every baptised Christian share in the common priesthood of the faithful. It is among those who have been called and consecrated by the Holy Spirit in the waters of Baptism that God choses some to step down to the office of ministerial priesthood. Central to the life of a priest is the celebration of the Sacraments.
Today, we also celebrate the Lord’s Commandment to love one another which is usually commemorated in the washing of feet ceremony. We imitate Christ who came not to be served but to serve and to offer his life as a ransom for many. However, this year, because of the extra-ordinary circumstance of the coronavirus, the washing of feet ceremony shall be omitted.
The Chrism mass has not taken place yet; hence we do not have the sacred oils blessed by our Archbishop Peter Comensoli. Our Archbishop has indicated that blessing of the oils will be the first major event to bring the people of the Archdiocese of Melbourne together when the crisis is over. The Oils are used for the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick for healing.
This year, because of the lockdown of churches and the suspension of the public celebration of the liturgy, we have been instructed not to prepare an altar of repose. At the end of mass, after ten minutes of adoration, to honour the injunction of Jesus to his disciples that they should keep awake and watch that they do not fall into temptation, the Blessed Sacrament shall be reposed in the Tabernacle in the sanctuary. The altar shall then be stripped by the priests and deacon to demonstrate that the sober moment of the church has began until Christ rises on Easter Sunday.
Fr Chinua Okeke CSSp