HHA couple of weeks ago a friend sent me an email in which she told me that, whilst reading a book, she had come across the words ‘Holy Thursday Revolution’. She asked me if I had heard about it and knew what it meant.
I had to admit that I hadn’t heard about this. Of course I am familiar with Holy Thursday. And, although I don’t see myself as a revolutionary person, I am familiar with the concept of revolution.
But I was intrigued by the combination of these words and, as you do, decided to consult Mrs Google. She pointed me in the direction of a book with the same title, ‘Holy Thursday Revolution’, and showed me a review of this book by Beatrice Bruteau.
I realized that the book highlights the importance of precisely the two symbolic acts we just heard about in the readings: Jesus’ washing of his disciples feet and his breaking of bread for them.
These actions are revolutionary because they are the exact opposite of the mode of being that focuses on achievement, power and success; the approach that dominates our world. This approach creates a world of inequality, a world of winners and losers.
Through his symbolic actions on the evening before his death, Jesus offered an alternative approach which is based on communion and the awareness that we are all equal as children of God.
What we remember tonight is quite important and touches the heart of the Christian tradition. It is ironic that on this Holy Thursday we are not allowed to wash each other’s feet during this mass and that the members of our congregation are not allowed to be physically present at the breaking of the bread of the Eucharist.
Reflecting on this I realised that what we remember tonight are symbolic acts of service and self-giving love which Jesus left us as an example to follow. I also realise that this is exactly what people do in many places at the present time.
People give their lives out of love, sometimes literally, in their care for Corona patients. Although perhaps not in a physical way, people go the extra mile to serve and reach out. Women and men connect with others in their isolation in small but significant ways.
Jesus example is followed and his vision of community is implemented with or without explicit awareness of the Lord’s command. Community is established, not a communion based on power and success but on compassion, love and friendship.
On the evening before his passion and death Jesus performed two symbolic acts. In a symbol the seen and unseen reality join into one. We talk about the real presence of the Lord in the bread we share and the wine we pour in memory of him during the Eucharistic celebration.
Similarly we can say that the Lord is really present when the members of his body follow his example and do what he did: break the bread of love and serve our sister and brother. Whether we like it or not, in doing so we become part of that Holy Thursday revolution and something new begins.
Tonight, on the eve before his passion and death, we remember what Jesus did. May this liturgical celebration of the Lord’s Last Supper strengthen us and nourish us on the journey ahead, that we may grow in love and communion with the Lord and with one another.
In tonight’s liturgy we sing ‘Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est’. God is present when there is love and charity. May this be realised a bit more today and in the days ahead. Amen