The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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April 14, 2000 Issue
Bishop Morneau's Column
"Reflection on the Readings"

Bishop Robert Morneau
Bishop Robert Morneau

Be an instrument of God's love and light

We must pass on the tradition of living a Eucharistic life

April 20, Holy Thursday

By Bishop Robert Morneau

Questions for Reflection:

1. What does the washing of the feet of the disciples symbolize for you?

2. Do you see the Eucharist more as sacrifice or banquet?

3. Does the Last Supper impact on your own understanding of the family meal?

One way to enter deeply into the great feast days of the Church is to memorize and pray the opening prayer of the liturgy. Quite often, that prayer summarizes the themes and meanings of the celebration. As we celebrate this Holy Thursday let us take that opening oration and ponder the richness of its content.

God our Father, we are gathered here to share in the supper which your only Son left to his Church to reveal his love.

The revelation of God's love takes the form of service. While at table, Jesus not only enters into intimacy with the disciples through conversation, but he also dramatizes his love by washing their feet in a profound symbol of what leadership is all about. All of this prefigures the ultimate act of love, which is total self-donation.

Our Lord prepared the disciples for his impending death and, even though they did not understand at the time, they would later comprehend what the washing of feet meant and why love is revealed primarily in terms of sacrifice.

He gave it [the supper] to us when he was about to die and commanded us to celebrate it as the new and eternal sacrifice.

When people are about to die most of the energy is centered on how to endure that final moment of life. Not Jesus. As he faced the mystery of death, our Lord was focused on his Father's kingdom and what the future would hold for his disciples. Jesus issued a command that they continue to live as he lived, willing to give one's life for the ransom of many.

Following Jesus is sacrificial love. The Last Supper is more than a banquet; it is the establishment of a new covenant that will transcend time and, here, on earth, give us a foretaste of the eternal banquet in heaven.

We pray that in this Eucharist we may find the fullness of love and life.

Jesus came that we might have life, life to the full. (John 10:10) Jesus came that we might experience the fullness of God's love for us. Jesus came as the light to the nations, scattering the darkness of sin and death. Whenever we gather around the table of the Lord, listening to his word and participating in the sacred meal, we grow toward the full stature of Christ.

As a pilgrim people we never quite arrive. There is always more room for conversion and transformation. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will bring about a renewal of our minds and hearts.

On Holy Thursday we "do this in remembrance" of the Lord. We do Eucharist, taking bread, giving thanks, breaking it, and sharing it with one another. On this most sacred of nights we recommit ourselves to be servant leaders, people who take on the vocation of being glad instruments of God's love, life and light.

St. Paul hands on to us the tradition that was given to him. We, too, hand it on to the next generation both in teaching and by living a Eucharistic life.

After Communion on Holy Thursday we pray this prayer with the whole Church: "Almighty God, we receive new life from the supper your Son gave us in this world. May we find full contentment in the meal we hope to share in your eternal kingdom. We ask this through Christ our Lord."

Holy Week is not an easy time: so much sorrow, so much joy. On this night before Jesus suffered we join him and his Mystical Body as we renew our calling to be authentic disciples.

(Bp. Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese.)

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