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Holy Thursday - Jesuits of North-West Africa Province | Society of Jesus

Holy Thursday

Ex 12: 1-8. 11-14/ Ps 116: 12-13. 15-16bc. 17-18/ 1 Cor 11: 23-26/ Jn 13: 1-15

By *Fr. Martins Okoh, SJ

"Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end" John 13:1. This opening verse from the gospel of today captures succinctly the core of Jesus' mission and what we celebrate yearly during every Easter triduum. That is, Jesus loves his own in this world and loves them to the end." Jesus not only loved us in the past, he loves us even now. Jesus not only loved us when we were sinless, but he loves us even as sinners. Jesus not only loved at the beginning, he loves us even to the end. Jesus is never tired of loving us. There is no limit to Jesus' love for us. He loves us in good and bad times. He loves us when it is convenient as well as when it is hard. There are no deceits, no pretense in Jesus' love.

This type of love can be difficult to comprehend because it stretches the limits of our imagination and mind. It is a love that wows and overwhelms us with delight. The Blessed Virgin Mary experienced this love and her reaction was that outburst of praise, the Magnificat. Imagine that love that makes God human. The love of Jesus makes him who is without sin to be ridiculed like the worst sinner. The love of Jesus makes him who is a king to be a slave.

As an expression of Jesus' love for us, he does something strange and unheard of among his contemporaries. He washes the feet of his disciples. He washes the feet of John, the Beloved; he washes the feet of Peter who denies him and even the feet of Judas Iscariot, who will betray him.

During this Mass too, Jesus will wash us all. He washes both the saint and the sinner. He washes not only our feet but our sins too. Another interesting thing that Jesus will do for us is to serve us. He serves us with his body and blood. There is nothing that he cannot give us because his love is boundless.

On this day, we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist and the establishment of the priesthood. A good friend of mine, a fellow priest whom I respect a lot once said to me, "the main function of priesthood is servitude—washers of feet." I believe genuine love and humble service cannot be separated—to love is to serve humbly. Every priest serves because of his love of God and neighbor. But not only ordained priests, the main attribute of those who are fed by the body and blood of Christ is to love and serve like Jesus as well.

On this Holy Thursday, may we imitate Jesus; may we imitate too that woman who anointed Jesus with that expensive aromatic oil from pure nard because she knew she had received much. Remember, one who has received much love, loves much.

*Fr. Martins Okoh, SJ, is a Graduate Student in Business Administration at Santa Clara University in California, USA. 


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