To watch the Liturgy of the Last Supper from the Church of Sant’Egidio click here.

First Reading

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14


The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbour in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.


Psalm

Psalm 116


Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.
R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
 in the presence of all his people.
R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.


Second Reading

1 Corinthians 11:23-26


For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.


GOSPEL

John 13: 1-15


Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.’ For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.




Today the Church remembers the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples. As soon as they sit at the table Jesus said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before my Passion.” Jesus felt the need to be with his friends. He wanted to tell them how much he loved them and the mission to change the world that the Father had given him. He entrusted them with two sacraments, two great signs: the sacrament of the bread and wine and the sacrament of the washing of the feet. In the liturgy of Holy Thursday we repeat, to the letter, what Jesus did that Thursday night. We need to repeat those actions to better understand them and then transmit them to all. 

In the letter to the Corinthians the apostle Paul tells the institution of the Eucharist: after sitting at the table with the Twelve, Jesus took the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body, which is given for you.” He did the same with the cup of wine, “This is my blood, which is poured out for you.” These are the same words that are repeated in each holy liturgy. That bread is not merely a bread, is it is a broken bread, it is Jesus himself who is broken so that no one may be without food. Jesus broke his body to give himself to all and poured all his blood without keeping even a drop for himself. In the consecrated bread and wine, Jesus is present as a body that is “given” and blood that is “poured.” Jesus asked his disciples to nourish themselves with them and added: “Do this in memory of me.” The Church is a people who, following the example of the Teacher, must be broken for love of others and pour their blood so that the Gospel is communicated to all. The Gospel of John tells of the other sign that Jesus performed during the last supper, after the institution of the Eucharist. At a certain point, Jesus got up from the table and washed his disciples’ feet. Jesus, “the teacher and Lord” became a servant and made the disciples lords. It is the last great lesson from Jesus alive: “You also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” The washing of the feet that takes place during the Holy Liturgy this evening is only a sign, an indication of the way we should follow: we should wash one another’s feet. Holy Thursday teaches us how to live and where to start living: life according to the Gospel means bending down in front of our brothers and sisters, beginning with the weakest. It is a path that comes from heaven, and yet at the same time it is the most human path we could want.

Holy Thursday – Liturgy of the Last Supper