Even though Lent is just beginning, you should start thinking about Holy Thursday right now.
Hidden in the upper room with his closest apostles, Jesus gave the entire world such a wonderful and mysterious gift all in one night. We all know the story that is written, and the sacrifice that he gave us upon the Cross.
However, there is no greater gift we can give ourselves than to prepare our hearts for Easter by contemplating the gift that Jesus gave to us.
But how do you start contemplating such a beautiful event in the history of the world and the Catholic Church?
Holy Thursday: The Night That Changed the World, by François Mauriac, gives us reflections on the events of Holy Thursday so that we can rejoice come Easter Sunday.
1. The breaking of bread
Even in Christ’s lifetime, there were those who didn’t believe Jesus was who he said he was. They heard Jesus teach in the temples, witnessed his miracles, and even saw how changed the people of faith were. But when Jesus told them they must eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life, many disciples turned away.
“Jesus must have seen those who withdrew, not only these few, poor, hard-hearted Jews, but with them all those who were to be scandalized by this mystery throughout the ages,” writes Mauriac.
After many of his followers leave, Jesus simply asks the twelve (and us), “Do you also wish to go away?”
2. Our holy priests
We not only received the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, but we also received the gift of our priests.
When Jesus told the Apostles to “do this in remembrance of me,” he was commissioning them with Holy Orders.
Today, many good priests often face hatred and live in stark contrast to today’s culture. We must pray for our priests. These men bring Christ to us in the Eucharist. They’re an example of Jesus in a pagan world, and they also share God’s mercy through the sacrament of reconciliation.
3. Our own commission
There is nothing that goes against our human nature more than to serve another.
We want to be served. If others take care of us and give us things, our lives are much easier. But this is not what Jesus came to do.
From the very beginning, Christ’s life was not easy. On Holy Thursday, Jesus bent down on his knees and washed the feet of the apostles, just as a servant would. This is Love.
“The world accuses the faithful of not doing anything except out of self-interest and with the hope of future rewards; it is because the world is blind to the nature of that love which is the source of the superhuman devotion of which the Catholic Church presents innumerable examples,”
Mauriac explains. “The washing of feet prefigured all those works of charity which would change the face of the world.”
4. The Blessed Mother
From the beginning of the Gospels, Mary became a tabernacle for Jesus with her fiat. She kept him hidden under her mantle until she sent him out at the wedding at Cana.
Mauriac encourages readers to think of where Mary might have been on Holy Thursday. Scripture only tells us that Mary was present at the foot of the cross, where Jesus gave her to us as our mother. She also received Christ’s body after he died.
“The Virgin Mary is the only Mother who was granted the privilege of bearing her Son a second time,” writes Mauriac when he contemplates the Eucharist.
Holy Thursday: The Night That Changed the World, by François Mauriac consists of thirteen meditations.
On Holy Thursday, Jesus gave us our Church, our priests, the Eucharist and sacrifice. After this joy-filled evening, Christ was arrested, tried and crucified the very next day.
Regardless of where we are on our Lenten journey, Holy Thursday: The Night That Changed the World can help bring new meaning and fullness to Easter Sunday.