“This Eucharistic celebration, charged with an extraordinary intensity of feelings and thoughts, makes us relive the night when Christ, surrounded by the Apostles in the Upper Room, instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood and entrusted us with the commandment of fraternal love,” said the cardinal in his homily.
The Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, without the traditional rite of the washing of the feet, in the Vatican Basilica, on the afternoon of this Holy Thursday (04/01).
“This Eucharistic celebration, charged with an extraordinary intensity of feelings and thoughts, makes us relive the night when Christ, surrounded by the Apostles in the Upper Room, instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood and entrusted to us the commandment of fraternal love“said the cardinal in his homily.
“He loved them to the end”. “This moving statement means that he loved them until his death on the cross the next day, on Good Friday, but it also means a love to the extreme, that is, to the supreme and insurmountable degree of the ability to love. Thursday night -Sunday reminds us how much we were loved; it tells us that the Son of God, in his affection for us, did not give us anything, but gave us himself, his Body and Blood, that is, the totality of his person, and that, for our redemption, he accepted to suffer the most ignominious death, offering himself as a victim “, Cardinal Re stressed.
The Eucharist is the center and heart of the Church’s life
According to the Dean of the College of Cardinals, “the existence of the Eucharist can only be explained because Christ loved us and wanted to be close to each of us for all the centuries, until the end of the world. Only a God could conceive of such a great gift and only infinite power and love could implement it “.
The cardinal recalled that “the Church has always considered the Sacrament of the Eucharist to be the most precious gift with which it has been enriched. It is the gift by which Christ walks with us as light, as strength, as food, as support in every day of our life. story”.
The Eucharist is the center and heart of the Church’s life. It must also be the center and heart of every Christian’s life. Whoever believes in the Eucharist never feels alone in life. He knows that in the gloom and silence of all churches there is Someone who knows his name and history, the One who loves him, who waits for him and who listens to him willingly. Before the tabernacle each one can trust what is in his heart and receive comfort, strength and peace of heart.
“The Eucharist is a reality not only to believe, but to be lived. The Eucharist is an appeal to openness to others, to brotherly love, to know how to forgive and help those who are in difficulty. It is an invitation to solidarity, to support mutual, not to abandon anyone. It is a call for an active commitment to the poor, the suffering, the marginalized. It is a light to recognize the face of Christ in the face of our brothers and sisters, especially of the wounded and needy, “he said. still Cardinal Re.
Institution of the Catholic priesthood
“The second mystery that we remember tonight is the institution of the Catholic priesthood,” said the cardinal.
Christ, the true priest, said to the Apostles: “Do this”, that is, the Sacrament of the Eucharist, “in remembrance of me”. Three days later, on Easter Sunday night, he also said to the Apostles, “Receive the Holy Spirit. The sins of those you forgive will be forgiven.” In this way, Christ radiated priestly powers over the Apostles, so that the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Forgiveness would continue to be renewed in the Church. He gave humanity an incomparable gift.
A small virus brought the whole world to its knees
Then, Cardinal Re recalled that “on Holy Thursdays in previous years, after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, it was an ingrained tradition, to prolong the adoration of the Eucharist throughout the night with various initiatives of worship prayer and moments of great religious intensity “.
“The dramatic situation created by Covid-19 and the risk of contagion unfortunately does not allow us to do this this year, as it did last year. Returning to our homes, we must continue to pray with our thoughts and hearts filled with gratitude for Jesus Christ, who wanted to remain present among us as our contemporary under the veils of bread and wine. ”
From him, who lived in his flesh and soul the physical suffering and loneliness we want to extract the strength we need, now more than ever, to face the great challenges of this pandemic that is causing thousands of victims every day across the planet . We experience in a universal way how a small virus can bring the whole world to its knees. In order for this drama to end, we must resort to all the human resources that science puts at our disposal, but a more irreplaceable step is necessary: we must raise a great unanimous prayer for the hand of God to come to our aid and put an end to this tragic situation that has worrying consequences in the fields of health, work, economics, education and direct relations with people.
Putting a little bit of order in our life
In his final consideration, Cardinal Re recalled that “the night that sees the highest manifestation of love and friendship for us is also the night of betrayal. Around the same table in the Cenacle, the love of God and the betrayal of man confronted “.
“Holy Thursday is also an invitation to become aware of our own sins. It is an appeal to put a little order in our lives and start the path of repentance and renewal to obtain God’s forgiveness,” he concluded.
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