Saturday, April 24, 2010

Good Shepherd Sunday

In the Year for Priests, the Good Shepherd Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to pray for priestly vocations. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, says, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me.” His words tell us what a vocation is: vocation is a call coming from Christ, an invitation for us to follow him. He calls whom he knows. We follow him when we hear his voice. Last Sunday, we saw how Jesus gave St. Peter this call. He said to him, “Follow me.”

We have seen last week that following Christ’s call is not easy for the road of discipleship is a path laden with thorns and crosses. The call which Christ extended to Peter would make him stretch out his arms to be led to where he would not like to go. The Acts of the Apostles today tell us that “the leading men of the city stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabbas and expelled them from their territory.” It seems that persecution is the lot of those who follow Jesus. That is why we oftentimes wonder: Why follow Jesus if such would only lead us to a way of suffering and trials? I think the answer is given by Jesus himself: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.” The Apocalypse, which is the 2nd reading, shows us a vision of “a great multitude, which no one could count”…standing before the throne and the Lamb, wearing white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress.” Indeed, Jesus is able to deliver what he promises: to those who hear his voice and follow him, he gives eternal life.

Once, I was invited to a Career Orientation which was sponsored by the high school I graduated from. I was made to sit amongst highly successful alumni of the school: Lawyers, Architects, Doctors, and the like. Each was given a chance to talk about their professions and this question was always asked by the students: “How much do you earn?” Believe it or not, I was asked the same question to which I replied: “My employer does not pay me much but I am here because the retirement benefits are great: He will give me eternal life.” The 2nd reading gives us a very beautiful explanation of what eternal life is: “They stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb…will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

In fact this same reading reveals to us that the priesthood begins on earth what all of us will do in heaven for all eternity: “they worship him day and night.” Amongst the many labors of the priest, prayer takes primacy: In his message for today, the Holy Father says, “If the priest is a ‘man of God’, one who belongs to God and helps others to know and love him, he cannot fail to cultivate a deep intimacy with God, abiding in his love and making space to hear his Word. Prayer is the first form of witness which awakens vocations. Like the Apostle Andrew, who tells his brother that he has come to know the Master, so too anyone who wants to be a disciple and witness of Christ must have ‘seen’ him personally, come to know him, and learned to love him and to abide with him.” And this is the wonderful life of a priest: he is not just a disciple and a witness of Christ. He is the friend of Christ: one who ‘sees’ the Lord personally, knows him, loves him, and abides with him. No amount of money can buy that surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ Crucified. Already on earth, he enjoys intimacy with Christ. In heaven, while all other professions will cease, the priest will still continue to do what he has been doing here on earth: he will worship God day and night.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fr. Trigilio vs. Fr. Pledger

Father Trigilio does it again! Amen Father!

'Hello, wake up and smell the coffee! There is a reason why the folk Mass crowd is getting older and fewer. Young and middle-aged faithful grew up under the pastoral leadership of Pope John Paul the Great. Latin was no longer a dead or secret language. Reverence is a key component to sacred liturgy. Pedestrian services cannot compete with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Whether ordinary form or extraordinary, both are equally valid and licit and both serve the spiritual needs of those who attend them. The 'look at your neighbor' theater-in-the-round modern monstrosities posing as churches are nothing more than banal self-serve ego worship. They emphasize the immanent while the authentic churches focus on the transcendent.'

I often tell my parishioners that church is the embassy of heaven. When they cross the threshold and enter the House of God, they are on foreign soil. They have passed from the earthly Babylon into the heavenly Jerusalem. This is why stained glass depicting lives of the saints adorns the real churches while clear plain glass allows the alternate worship sites to gawk and glare at the secular world. Gymnasiums are fine for sports but not for divine worship. Sacred liturgy is about God not about man. Religion is required by the cardinal virtue of Justice. We owe God proper adoration and praise. When we pat ourselves on the back, however, it is not religion but entertainment.

Follow this link: The Black Biretta: Father Trigilio takes on 'U.S. Catholic'; Father Pfleger's church of the bizarre#links#links

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Easter Vigil in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite


Just want to share pictures of our Easter Vigil in the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite at the Parish of the Lord of Divine Mercy, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City. Thanks to Jesus Felix Valenzuela, our Cantor, for the wonderful photographs

Monday, April 12, 2010

Interesting Liturgical Commentaries from Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff on Vatican Website

Easter Vigil Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite 2010

Easter Vigil Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite 2010

The Holy Father during Good Friday services 2010

The New Liturgical Movement brought to our attention the liturgical commentaries coming from the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff on the Vatican Website. At last, something is said about the centrality of the Crucifix in the Liturgical Celebration and this on the Vatican website itself!

How I wish the liturgists in the Philippines would read this! I remember that once I was reprimanded by a liturgist about the Crucifix I placed on the altar. He said, "The Cross is not the center of the celebration." I asked, "Father, if the Cross is not the center of the celebration, then, what is the center of the celebration?" He gave a very strange answer, "The Celebration is the center of the Celebration!" I do not know what is it with these liturgists who are allergic to the Cross on the altar!

Follow this link: Interesting Liturgical Commentaries from Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff on Vatican Website

Sunday, April 11, 2010

the Non-Singing (Catholic) Congregations

I stumbled upon this very sensible article on Catholic (non) singing which, I think, is worth our consideration. I really agree with what the author says about the real place of Music in Catholic Liturgy.

"The music is part of the liturgy, integral and native to it. The people are not making it. It is not generated by us. They can be part of it but it is not their primary responsibility. And when they sing, it is not to reinforce their perception of membership in a community. It is to more fully participate in sacred actions taking place in a liturgical manner. It comes from within the structure of the liturgy and is not imposed from without. It does not come from the people. It comes from the prayer in which the people are invited, but not required, to participate. You can issue all the proclamations you want to. You can yell and demand. But in the end, this Catholic sense of the role of the people's song will not change. Here is the controversial claim that I would like to make: there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, the people might be more correct here than their pundits who are always denouncing them. And if the people ever do relent and start singing like Bapitsts, the new ethos will gut the primary focus of the Roman Rite. The Catholic ritual is not people based or people centered. It is not given by the community as a gift each to other. It is a gift from God that we offer back to God, something we receive humbly as a blessing and an occasion of grace as we offer our lives back to God in sacrifice. "

"Think of observing a miracle even in a non-liturgical context. Is the impulse to sing as loudly as possible or is it to become quiet in its presence? If someone interrupts the scene with loud outbursts, we might wonder if they are fully aware of what is going on. Even in our times of mundane liturgy and plain talk on the altar, the embedded Catholic sense is still there to regard the liturgy as solemn, not something we make on our own but something to which we must submit. The driving impulse here is toward being quiet. Yes, we are free to sing the Gloria, the dialogues, the Sanctus, the Agnus, provided it is compatible with a prayerful comportment. But we all try not to push our voices above the volume of the activity around us. This is a humble impulse. Arrogance and sticking out is contrary to what we believe we should be doing. "

Follow this link: In Defense of Non-Singing Congregations

Divine Mercy Sunday

“No soul will be justified until it turns with confidence to my mercy, and that is why the first Sunday after Easter is to be the Feast of Mercy. On that day, priests are to tell everyone about my great and unfathomable mercy…Tell the confessor that the Image is to be on view in the Church…By means of this image I will be granting many graces to souls; so let every soul have access to it.” (Diary.570)

These words of the Lord to St. Faustina become especially significant today because the Mercy Sunday which we celebrate is in the middle of the Year for Priests. Indeed, the Lord has bestowed upon the priests that special task to proclaim his Mercy. And not only does He give the priests this task. He also bestows power to their words: “Tell my priests that hardened sinners will repent upon hearing their words, when they will speak about my unfathomable mercy, about the compassion I have for them in my Heart. To priests who will proclaim and extol my mercy, I will give wondrous power, and I will anoint their words and touch the hearts of those to whom they will speak.” (Diary 1521)

The Gospel today tells us that it has been the intention of Christ that his priests would be powerful proclaimers of his mercy. On the evening of his Resurrection, the Lord Jesus appeared to his apostles and bestowed upon them two gifts. The first would be the gift of his peace: “Peace be with you,” he said to them. The second would be the power to forgive sins: “He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whatever sins you forgive are forgiven. Whatever sins you do not forgive are not forgiven.’” By these words, priests have become proclaimers of Christ’s “great and unfathomable mercy.” But not only that, the Lord Jesus gives wondrous power to the words of the priests: “To priests who will proclaim my mercy, I will give wondrous power, and I will anoint their words…” When the priest declares the absolution at the confessional, his words are truly anointed words…his words of absolution are truly anointed by the Holy Spirit whom Christ bestowed on his apostles on that blessed evening. In this way, Christ has made his priests even greater than the prophets of the Old Testament. For the ancient prophets, while proclaiming that God is a merciful God, slow to anger, rich in kindness, whose forgiveness is unto the thousandth generation, cannot declare absolution. “Only God can forgive sins.” But on that night of the resurrection, Christ bestows upon the apostles that power which only God can exercise: the power to forgive sins. “Whatever sins you forgive, they are forgiven…” Thus, St. John Chrysostom said: “Let us treat with reverence those to whose hands the work of the Spirit has been entrusted. For great is the dignity of the priesthood. Whose sins you shall forgive, He says, they are forgiven; and because of this, Paul says: Obey your prelates and be subjects to them (Heb. xii, 7), and hold them in great reverence.” The greatness of the dignity of the priesthood lies in the fact that he exercises the power which exclusively belongs to God: the forgiveness of sins.

Thus, the priest sits at the confessional as judge. As Pontius Pilate sat at the judgment seat, “at a place called Lithostrotos, but in Hebrew called Gabbatha” (Jn. 19:13) in order to sentence Jesus to death, so the priest sits at the confessional in order to free a penitent from his sins. Thus, it is important to confess everything to the priest for he cannot absolve what he does not know. And remember Jesus said: “Whatever sins you do not forgive, they are not forgiven.”

On this Mercy Sunday, let us truly mean what we say: “Jesus, I trust in you.” I know that oftentimes, we find difficulty believing in the priest’s absolution. The priest’s personal sinfulness oftentimes is the hindrance to his credibility as instrument of Divine Absolution. We may find reason to doubt a priest’s credibility but never should we doubt the authority of our Lord’s words: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whatever sins you forgive, they are forgiven.” Let us receive the absolution from the priest. “Lord, it may be difficult to believe in this absolution bestowed by a sinner but you anointed the words of this sinner priest. And so, I say, ‘Jesus, I trust in you!’”

Thursday, April 8, 2010

On the authority and dignity of the Priesthood

Pope Benedict XVI, Good Friday

"Let us do all things that we may have the Spirit of God within us. And let us treat with reverence those to whose hands the work of the Spirit has been entrusted. For great is the dignity of the priesthood. For whose sins you shall forgive, He says, they are forgiven; and because of this Paul says: Obey your prelates, and be subject them (Heb. xiii, 7), and hold them in great reverence. For you have but the care of what concerns yourself; and if you look well after that you will not be held accountable for what others do. But the priest, even should he order his own life in a fitting manner, yet does not scrupulously have due care for both your life and the lives of those about him, shall go with the wicked into the everlasting fire; and so he oftentimes while not failing in his own conduct will perish because of yours, if he has not done all that belonged to him to do.

Knowing then the greatness of their danger, treat them with much consideration, for as Paul goes on to say: They watch for your souls; and not simply this, but as having to render an account of them. Because of this you must treat them with honour. And should you join with others to insult them, then neither will your own affairs prosper. For as long as the helmsman is in good heart, those on board are safe. But if he is grieved by their abuse and by their hostile behavior, he can neither keep a good watch, nor perform his task properly, and unwillingly involves them in many disasters. And so likewise the priest. If he is held in honour by you, he will be able to take care of what relates to yourselves. But if you throw them into despondency, weakening their hands, and making them easily overcome, you expose both them and yourselves to the waves, however courageous they may be."

St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor

The Magdalene and Easter

Speak, Mary, declaring what thou sawest wayfaring.
"The tomb of Christ, Who now liveth:
and likewise the glory of the Risen.

Bright Angels attesting, the shroud and napkin resting.

Yes, Christ, my hope is arisen:
to Galilee He goeth before you!

From the Victimae Paschalis
Easter Sequence

Monday, April 5, 2010

Priestly dignity

Pope St. Pius X (while Bishop of Mantua) :

“A priest must bring his every action, every step, every habit into harmony with the sublimity of his vocation. The priest who at the altar celebrates eternal mysteries, assumes, as it were, a divine form; this he must not relinquish when he descends from the High Mount and departs from the Temple of the Lord. Wherever he is, or in whatever work he engages, he must never cease to be a priest, accompanied by the dignity, gravity and decorum of a priest. He must, therefore, be holy; he must be saintly, so that his words and work express his love, impress his authority, and command respect. Exterior dignity is more powerful than eloquent words…. On the other hand, if he forgets the dignity of his character, if he does not show in his exterior comportment more gravity than seculars, he incurs the displeasure of those very people who applaud his levity but are not slow to despise both him and what he stands for.”

Thank you hallowedground for the quote.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter and the Pope

Surrexit Dominus, et apparuit Petro, alleluia!

The Lord is risen, and hath appeared to Peter, alleluia!

Luke 24:34; Communion Antiphon Easter Monday

Easter Sunday

For the past Sundays of Lent, the readings of the Mass exposed to us the true face of sin as a rebellion against the Lord. Satan was unmasked as a deceiver who keeps promising what he cannot deliver. This year, Lent has shown us that Satan has brought the entire mankind nothing but misery and humiliation. Thus, we were moved to repentance. We confessed our sins and engaged in penance and works of charity to express our interior contrition.

Now that the days of fasting have come to an end, what ought we to do? This has to be asked because while it may be true that the whole world stands still on Holy Week, everything returns to “normal” at Easter Sunday. We return to our “normal” lives. We go back to our “normal” selves. What do I mean? Well, people tend to become extra pious on Holy Week and return to their former ways afterwards. Last Good Friday, a preacher in Sto. Domingo Church noted the huge crowd in Church on that day. He said, “Bakit ba maraming nagsisimba kung kelan patay ang Diyos? Tapos pag buhay na ang Diyos, di na tayo nagsisimba.” There was a grain of truth in what he said. Often times, we give the impression that our repentance, our conversion is simply seasonal and cosmetic. It is more like a ceasefire in our rebellion against God and not a radical reorientation of our lives towards God. In the second reading, St. Paul tells us: “Cast out the old yeast…the yeast of malice and wickedness.” “Let us celebrate with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” St. John Chrysostom said something in the same light: “We have finished with the duty of fasting; let us not however finish with the fruits of fasting. For we can put aside the obligation of fasting, and yet gather the fruits of it. The weariness of the struggle has passed; but let the eagerness of doing what is right not leave us. The fast has ended but the service of God remains…Bodily fast had ended; but the discipline of the spirit has not ended. This latter is more desirable than the first; and the first was instituted because of this.”

St. Paul gives us the reason for casting aside the old leaven of sin, of wretchedness and wickedness: “For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.” He has made our reconciliation with God possible by his suffering and death. He has washed us clean from sin with his own blood. The price he paid for our redemption was not a joke. He suffered and died in order to lead us out of slavery to sin. Let us keep in mind the price he paid. Let us not take it for granted by returning to the slavery he freed us from.

St. Augustine admonished us: “So thanks to the Lord our God who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of the Son whom he loved (Col 1, 12-13). Separated then from this darkness by the light of his Gospel, and delivered from these powers of evil through the Precious Blood, let you watch and pray so that you may not enter into temptation (Matt. 26, 41). For whosoever among you has that faith which works in charity (Gal. 5, 6), the prince of this world is cast forth from your hearts (Jn. 12, 31). But outside, he goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pt. 5, 8).”

Dearly beloved, let our repentance be sincere and our resolve be firm. Christ has been sacrificed. Let us renounce Satan, his works, and his pomps. Let us turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel. Let us not walk in darkness but live as children of light.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Magnum Silentium

Let us keep our silence today...
The Lord is taking his well-earned rest!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Pope and the Cross

When the wolves came, you did not run for you are not a hireling!
You are truly worthy of the name Shepherd.
You imitated your Master when he stood before Pilate.
"Christ has suffered for you,
leaving you an example that you may follow in his steps:
Who did no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.
Who, when he was reviled, did not revile,
when he suffered, did not threaten,
but yielded himself to him who judged him unjustly..." (1 Peter 2: 21-23)
Thank you, Holy Father, for embracing the Cross in silence.
Thank you for this your witness!

Good Friday and Christ's Priesthood

The mystery of the Incarnation was necessary for God the Son to be the eternal high Priest, the one Mediator between God and man. As the priest “can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward since he himself is beset with weakness,” Christ, in assuming human nature, stands in solidarity with the sufferings of humanity. Truly, Christ is the Compassionate One and being so, he is truly human for “the essential element of our being human is being compassionate, suffering with others: this is true humanity.” (Benedict XVI, Lectio Divina with the Priests of Rome, 18 February 2010). Many people think that sinfulness is the true mark of the human person. But the Holy Father thinks otherwise: “sin is never solidarity but always tears solidarity apart, it is living for oneself instead of giving it. True humanity is real participation in the suffering of human beings. It means being a compassionate person…being at the core of human passion, really bearing with others the burden of their sufferings…”

Christ the compassionate one, entered into the mystery of human wretchedness. While keeping an intimate conversation with his Father, he bore in himself the entirety of human suffering. He suffered with those who seemed like sheep without a shepherd. Thus, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears…” (Hebrews 5:7) A number of times he wept. At the tomb of Lazarus, he was moved inwardly by the mystery and terror of death and so he wept. Seeing the future destruction of Jerusalem on account of its disobedience, Jesus weeps for all the destructions in human history – “seeing that people destroy themselves and their cities with violence and disobedience.” Jesus weeps with loud cries. Upon the Cross he cried out: “My God, my God why have you abandoned me?” (Mk. 15:34) He cried again at the end. This cry is the cry of suffering humanity which Jesus bears and brings within the hearing of God: “I cried aloud to God, cried aloud to God that he may hear me.” “In this way (Jesus) brings about the priesthood, the function of mediator”: he bears in himself, takes on in himself, the sufferings and passion of the world. He transforms it into a cry to God and brings it before the eyes and into the hands of God. Thus, he brings the cry of suffering humanity to the moment of redemption.

In fact, the letter was very clear: “He OFFERED up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears…” In a truly priestly act, He offers to God the cries of suffering humanity. “This is the fulfillment of his priesthood, thus he brings humanity to God. In this way he becomes mediator, he becomes priest.” Jesus “offered himself and made this offering…with the very same compassion that transforms the suffering of the world into prayer and into a cry to the Father.”

It is in this light that priest, like Christ, must bring into the Mass and put into the hands of Christ all of his compassion to the sufferings of the world. The priest “must learn to accept more profoundly the sufferings of the pastoral life” for here is where mediation takes place. In his sufferings, he enters into the mystery of Christ. In his toils and labors for the good of souls, the priest is able to imitate our Lord in entering the mystery of human wretchedness. The priest carries it with him, visits those who are suffering and looks after them, takes upon himself the “passion” of his time, of his parish, of the people entrusted to his care. His compassion to the suffering of this world becomes a priestly act. He puts them all into the hands of Christ the High Priest who in turn, lifts it up to the Father in his one perfect sacrifice.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holy Thursday and the Priesthood

It is Holy Thursday in the Year for Priests. To me, the real heart of the Year for Priests was not the Feast of St. John Vianney, nor was it the very successful 2nd National Congress for Priests. The very heart of this year for Priests is today, Holy Thursday, because it was on this day when our Lord established the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders at the last supper. By taking bread and wine and saying: “This is my body…This is the cup of my blood,” Jesus established the Eucharist as a sacrament. When he commanded his apostles to “Do this in memory of me,” he ordained them as priests, for the only way to perpetuate the Eucharist is through the priests who would offer the Sacrifice of the new covenant in the same fashion our Lord Jesus did.

As we open the sacred Triduum of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, my mind is raised to the Eternal Priesthood of Jesus Christ. I have said it before that it is in the light of Christ’s eternal priesthood that we should see his passion and death, lest it becomes simply a narrative of violence and suffering. The letter to the Hebrews, which explores the wealth of Christ’s priesthood, describes our Lord’s passion as his entrance into the Holy of holies in the very fashion a high priest does in the Old Testament.

The letter to the Hebrews introduced a new way of understanding the Old Testament as a book that speaks of Christ. The previous tradition had seen Christ as the fulfillment of the Davidic promise: He is the true King of Israel. This kingship of Christ we honored last Palm Sunday. However, the author of the letter to the Hebrews discovered a citation which, until then, had gone unnoticed: “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4). The letter to the Hebrews tells us that Christ did not only fulfill the Davidic promise of the real king of Israel and of the world but also he fulfilled the promise of the real Priest. Jesus, Son of the living God, is both king and priest. “The whole of the religious world, the whole reality of sacrifices, of the priesthood that is in search of the true priesthood, the true sacrifice, finds in Christ its key, its fulfillment.” (Benedict XVI, Lectio Divina with the priests of Rome, 18 February 2010)

Christ is Priest because he is the one Mediator between God and man. To be a mediator means to be a bridge. “This is the mission of the priest: to combine, to ling these two realities that appear to be so separate: the world of God … and our human world. The priest’s mission is to be a mediator, a bridge that connects, and thereby, to bring human beings to God, to his redemption, to his true light, to his true life.”

To be this mediator, the priest must be on God’s side. Only in Christ is this requirement fully brought about for he is God made man. He is not only on God’s side. He is God himself. The reason why he became man is so that he may become for us the true bridge, the true mediation. All other priests must have an authorization from God. They must receive the sacrament which is the divine act that makes men priests in communion with Christ. The sacrament is very important for without it, no priest could be priest. “No one can be priest by himself; God alone can attract me, can authorize me, can introduce me into participation in Christ’s mystery…This aspect of divine giving, of divine precedence, of divine action that we ourselves cannot bring about and our passivity – being chosen and taken by the hand of God – is a fundamental point…We must always return to the Sacrament, to this gift in which God gives me what I will never be able to give; participation, communion with the Divine, with the priesthood of Christ.” On account of this, the priest must first of all be a man of God, “he must know God intimately and know him in communion with Christ…Our being, our life, and our heart must be fixed in God.” The Mass, the breviary, personal prayers are elements of being with God, of being men of God.

However, if he simply remained Divine, Jesus could not be priest for a priest necessarily must be human. The priesthood of Christ is precisely in his humanity for if he were not man, what body can he offer in sacrifice? “Christ, in coming into the world said: Sacrifices and Offerings you take no delight in, but a body you have prepared for me. And so, here I am. I come to do your will.” In his Incarnation, Christ, who is of the Father, became man, and becoming man, he is priest: “The Son of God was made man precisely in order to be a priest, to be able to fulfill a priest’s mission.” Thus, the letter would say: “There is but one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ.” In his humanity, Christ is priest. Thus, at the last supper, when he established the new and eternal sacrifice, he took bread and said, “This is my body.” He took wine and said, “This is my blood.” It cannot be otherwise. It was his body that he offered. It was his blood that he shed.

The washing of his disciples’ feet is a wonderful portrayal of the true meaning of the Incarnation. The job of washing feet of guests is so demeaning a gesture that Jews would not assign this task to a Jewish helper. He would assign it to a gentile slave. Thus, when our Lord began washing feet, Simon Peter refused. He could not bear the sight of his Master and Lord humiliating himself – doing what cannot be performed by a Jew. “But if I do now wash your feet, you cannot have any part in me,” Our Lord tells him.

Such is the humiliation of the incarnation, the humiliation of the eternal priesthood of Christ. Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God…Rather he emptied himself and took the form of a slave. And it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting death, death on the Cross. And it is precisely in Christ’s priesthood that humanity finds its exaltation. At last, Christ enables us to offer God something that is worthy of Him. The truth about our humanity is that it cannot be understood apart from God in whose image and likeness we have been created. “In him we live, we move, and have our being,” so said St. Paul. In as much as the human being is the only creature God created for Himself, man is most truly man when he offers God worship. It is in the priesthood that the human being achieves the very purpose of his existence which is to know, love, and serve God and to find ultimate fulfillment and happiness in Him. It is in Christ’s priesthood that man is able to offer God what truly befits him. When the letter to the Hebrews said, “Sacrifice and offerings you take no delight in,” it meant that no sacrifice of the Old Testament nor of any gentile religion was truly worthy of God. That is why Christ offers his body. This offering alone is the only genuinely perfect worship in which God is most truly pleased. Christ’s sacrifice alone honors God in the fullest sense.

What great and profound mysteries Christ gave us on this night. Tonight he gave us the true priesthood. Tonight he gave us the true sacrifice. In the true priesthood, he makes us truly man: Homo religiosus, worshipping man. In the true sacrifice, he puts in our hands the one perfect offering that alone is worthy of God: the Mass. How rich have we become on account of this night! “How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me? The cup of salvation I will raise. I will call on the Lord’s name!” What more can we do before the gifts of the Priesthood and the Eucharist? Tonight, let us raise the cup of salvation in thanksgiving. By no other means can we repay the Lord for his goodness to us!