With this Mass, celebrated in the evening of the Thursday in Holy Week, the Church begins the sacred Easter Triduum and devotes herself to the remembrance of the Last Supper. At the super on the night He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus, loving those who were His own in the world even to the end, offered His Body and Blood to the Father under the appearance of bread and wine, gave them to the apostles to eat and drink, then enjoined the apostles and their successors in the priesthood to offer them in turn. Listen to Fr. Cooper's Holy Thursday Homily: The Eucharist and the Sacrifice of Love
Jesus was a man of great humility. When He rode into Jerusalem on a colt, the foal of a donkey, he set into motion events that He knew were irreversible. They resulted in His crucifixion and death. But here’s the Good News: He did it out of love for you and me! “Greater love has no one than this,” says John 15:13, “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” We are Christ’s friends. May we all be like the little donkey and carry Jesus into the world!
Today the Church invites us to reflect on God’s love for the world and to be joyful because of it. Today the Church “Rejoices” because even in this penitential season, God still redeems us from our sinfulness. Lent is a time to open ourselves to the overwhelming mystery of God’s totally free and all-inclusive love for us and for all people of this world. Lent invites us to surrender to the mystery, to accept its mind-boggling truth and then to accept the challenge that love means sacrifice and there can be no love without true sacrifice. Today – so close to celebration of Holy Week, we can say this: God did not spare His only Son, but gave him up – to the Cross – that we might have life in Him.
Is there some evil in the world that a voice within you keeps saying, “Somebody ought to do something about that?” Maybe that’s the voice of God. Maybe it’s time you went beyond anger to getting involved in solving some of the world’s problems. If it was good enough for Jesus, surely you and I are not too good to get up in arms from time to time about evils that are still occurring in our world. Of course, we are not to get angry over petty things. But there are some things that should make us angry--when the weak are trampled upon, when children are abused, when the poor are taken advantage of and the homeless are neglected. Maybe the greater sin that you and I commit is not getting angry often enough, angry over some of the injustices that still exist in this world.
The three disciples were on the mountain with Jesus when he was transfigured. “His clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.” And they saw their Master in the company of the two great leaders of the Jewish faith, Moses and Elijah. Then they heard a voice: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” St. Mark closes his report of this experience on the mountaintop with these words, “Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.” Jesus was all they had and Jesus was all they needed. When they gave him their undivided attention, their lives were filled with his power and their witness touched the entire world and is still touching it today. Are you listening? Will you be obedient?
As we mark our foreheads with ashes this evening we are asking God to cleanse us of anything that might prevent His perfect will from being done in our lives. We, too, are His people. We, too, miss the mark of holy living. We pray to be restored to the kind of relationship with Him that allows us to bear the burden of a fallen world. In a special way God is says to each of us on this Ash Wednesday: "Be my Valentine" ... which simply means "You are loved!"
Medical science was completely unable to treat leprosy when Jesus healed this man. There was no known treatment or medicine that could possibly restore his body, make him “clean” again, revive feeling in his deadened limbs. Only Christ’s power could do that. In the same way, many of us have lost faith in God’s power and purpose in our lives. We, too, are spiritually dead; we have no feeling of purpose in life, yet Christ can cleanse and restore us, giving us not just life, but abundant life. Christ is willing to heal our every hurt. Christ is willing to take away every sin. Christ is willing to grant us new life, if only we ask. Jesus says to each of us: “I am willing!”
There is one who will never leave us no matter what the situation. And He calls us to share the same kind of love and compassion to everyone we meet. Don’t go through life believing that the secret to life is locked up somewhere with no key available for the likes of you and me. There is a key. His name is Jesus. He is the light that shines in the darkness. He is the hope that never fails. He is the life that never ends. He is the key to the secret of life. When we join our life with His, we find everything we need for an abundant life.
Jesus above all persons was willing to do whatever was necessary to accomplish what His Father had sent Him to do. His authority came from his relationship with the Father. His authority came from His genuine commitment to serving people. His authority came from His willingness to do whatever it took--even sacrificing His own life--to accomplish that for which He was sent. And His authority continues to set the oppressed free from whatever unclean spirit that may have taken hold on their hearts! Jesus can speak peace to the human heart, strengthen the weak, and give life to those who are spiritually dead. And that is Good News!
Hearing isn’t the same thing as listening. When we listen to someone we are saying you are really important to me. You matter. The most important listening we can do is to listen to God. God’s deepest wish is to direct us to an abundent life. If that’s not happening in our lives, it is because we are not listening to Him. The old prophet Eli told young Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” What an eloquent, yet powerful prayer. Are you listening to the people around you--especially those closest to you? More importantly, are you listening to God?