Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday Sermon of Fr. Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O.

Fr. Aidan Logan is spending Holy Week at Assumption Grotto and below is text of his Holy Thursday sermon.

Holy Thursday, 2014
Assumption Grotto Church, Detroit

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.

For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep.

These lines from tonight’s epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians are the earliest written record we have of the Last Supper and the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, the sacrament and the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this epistle, this letter of instruction, St. Paul not only recounts the words and actions of our Blessed Lord but also lays out for us the foundation of our Catholic Faith concerning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Holy Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ.

Under the old Law God’s holy people offered animal sacrifices in atonement for their sins and in thanksgiving for God’s mercy. Along with daily sacrifices for individual sins and the sacrifices offered on special occasions, like the birth of a first-born son, the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement in the fall of each year was the principal offering for sin and the Passover Sacrifice offered at the first full moon of spring was the great act of Thanksgiving for the deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt. From the first Passover to our Lord’s own day every firstborn male of man and beast was to be sacrificed to God. Of course the Jews never offered human sacrifice; firstborn sons were redeemed with the offering an animal sacrifice. So, when the scriptures tell us that Mary gave birth to her firstborn son, we are being told that from the first moment of his conception he was a sacrificial victim. Along with the sacrifice offered to redeem a first-born son, the yearly Passover sacrifice recalled that night when the angel of death passed over the homes of the Israelites marked with the blood of the Passover lamb.

Of course God  made it clear again and again through his prophets that, in fact, he needed no animal sacrifices but rather that his people needed to sacrifice themselves, their hearts and minds, to him. For a people whose wealth and status was found in their flocks and herds the gift of an animal to God and its death meant a death to themselves and the things of this world. Those animals were just symbols of what was really going on: the formation of a people, day by day and year by year, in preparation for that greatest and final sacrifice that would put an end to all others.

And so it was no accident that our Blessed Lord entered upon the course of his passion on the very night when all of Israel fulfilled for the last time God’s command to sacrifice and eat of the Passover Lamb. In all the other sacrifices those who offered them received back a portion of the animal to take home, cook and eat. Other parts of the animal were burned upon the altar or given to the priest for his and his family’s upkeep. Of all the sacrifices, only the Passover Lamb remained whole, not one of its bones broken, roasted and eaten by the family that offered it. So of all the sacrifices, that of the Passover Lamb involved a total consumption of the victim. By eating the Passover Lamb they themselves became the sacrifice and accepted once again their vocation as God’s holy people.

The sacrificial Passover feast also included unleavened bread, the food of nomads, and wine, the fruit of the Promised Land. And so it was that the Word Made Flesh, reclined at the Passover Feast of lamb and bread and wine with his apostles and taking the stuff of the Old Covenant transformed it into the very heart of the New Law and the one perfect sacrifice.

In this he turned the whole dynamic of sacrifice on its head. For now it is God Himself who not only offers the sacrifice, but IS the sacrifice. And being God-made-man, the sacrifice is perfect and need never be repeated. Being God-made-man his sacrifice is beyond time and eternally present before the throne of mercy and justice. Being God-made-man his perfect sacrifice not only forgives sins like the old sacrifices, but goes to the very heart of the matter and heals the alienation between God man caused by sin. Not only that but from now on those who partake of this sacrifice under the appearance of bread and wine do not become one with a dead animal that nourishes the body for this passing life. No, those who enter into union, Holy Communion, with the Body and Blood of Christ become radically one with the risen and glorious Lord Jesus. In Holy Communion we share in the life of God Himself.

All of which brings us back to St. Paul and the Corinthians. Their behavior, aside from dispelling any romantic notions we may have of the early Church, clearly showed that they did not realize what they were doing, or more importantly what God was doing, when they came together to offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice and receive Holy Communion. In fact, St. Paul goes so far as to say that, rather than eating and drinking of the source of eternal life, their feasting calls down upon them judgment of God. In fact, he sais, they are really sound asleep as far as their Christianity goes.

On this Holy Thursday evening when all of Christendom enters mystically and sacramentally into the Great Three Days of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, we might ask ourselves if we realize what we are doing here and what it means to be one with the perfect and eternal sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ in his Passover from death to life.

For interesting news items I don't have time to blog on, check out my Twitter Feed: @TeDeumBlog

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

Note: The recommended links below are automatically generated by the tool, so they are not necessarily related content.