- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

Homily for April 1, 2021 – Holy Thursday

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

April 1, 2021 – Holy Thursday

(Exodus 12: 1 – 8; Ps: 116; I Corinthians 11: 23 – 26; John 13: 1 – 15)

When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, the open persecution began. Nevertheless, Jesus had an answer for His foes – one that revealed a most treasured secret in His heart. Jesus proclaimed: “I solemnly assure you, the Son cannot do anything by Himself – He can only do what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and everything the Father does He shows Him.” (John 5: 19) My brothers, Jesus’ revelation, so very personal and sacred, is true for us here and now.

Frequently amazed and often confused, the disciples struggled with the Master’s teaching; some even departed when His word was too much to endure, too demanding to be taken seriously. (Cf. John 6: 60ff) Now gathered in the Upper Room, watching and listening, they surely were filled with wonder, confusion, perhaps, even a sense of foreboding. And all the time, in Jesus’ mind is: “I solemnly assure you, the Son cannot do anything by Himself – He can only do what He sees the Father doing.” Jesus partially disrobes, fastens a towel around Himself, humbly as a servant and washes their feet moving from one to another. Possibly, Peter gave voice to their unvoiced protest. And all the time, in Jesus’ mind is: “I solemnly assure you, the Son cannot do anything by Himself – He can only do what He sees the Father doing.”

Taking the food of the Passover Meal, Jesus by His word transforms the unleavened bread and the wine into His own Body and Blood, becoming an incomprehensible mystery of God’s presence. As one of our Cistercian abbots wrote: “Omnipotence is constrained in a piece of bread and Eternity is held in a cup of wine” – all for us, for our salvation. While the disciples look on, as they listen intently, as they receive from His hands – in Jesus’ heart there is: “I solemnly assure you, the Son cannot do anything by Himself – He can only do what He sees the Father doing.”

On one occasion the disciples requested, “Lord, teach us how to pray…He said, “When you pray, say: ‘Father’.” As we chant the Lord’s Prayer in this Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we are truly hearing our Father through the Sacred Word and seeing the Father through this Holy Eucharist – He is behind everything Jesus proclaims and what He consecrates. We hear Him with listening faith and with the eyes of our hearts we see Him with the Son hidden in Sacred Host and Consecrated Wine.

It is our sacred privilege, our baptismal obligation, our grateful response to reflect on Jesus’ words, to consider prayerfully His actions, He who said, “I solemnly assure you, the Son cannot do anything by Himself – He can only do what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and everything the Father does He shows Him.”

From our own personal, prayerful reflection, the mystery Jesus held in His heart and revealed will surely affect our prayer, will truly deepen our reverence and bring us, each one of us, into a more profound, living relationship with the One, with Jesus we address as “Our Father.”