Maundy Thursday – Mass of the Lord’s Supper
We begin the Triduum with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The entrance antiphon for this day gives us wonderful insight into the Triduum celebration: “We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection; through him we are saved and set free.” (Gal. 6:14) We celebrate the triumph of God’s love accomplished by the cross of Jesus Christ. Life is born from death. The liturgy of these three days is rich with symbols. The primary symbols of Maundy Thursday are the washing of the feet and the sharing of the Eucharist. These symbols embody the themes of service, priesthood, and unity. Jesus shows his love for us and we are challenged to share that love with others.
At the Last Supper, Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover meal into a memorial of his death and resurrection. He becomes the new Passover, the Way to new life in the kingdom of God. Today, we as Christians gather to celebrate this covenant meal and bind ourselves to Him as we follow him to death and resurrection. And with Him, we surrender our own lives for the sake of the world.
There is no formal end to this service. We transfer the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose so that we can receive Holy Communion on Good Friday when Mass is not celebrated. A watch is kept at the Altar of Repose, a vivid reminder of our Lord’s invitation to Watch with him in his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. At the end of the watch we go home to return on Good Friday to continue our celebration of the Lord’s Passion.