Mass of the Lord’s Supper

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April 6, 2023
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, FW

This Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins the Sacred Paschal Triduum, three days in which we celebrate the greatest mysteries of our redemption.  In the liturgies of the Paschal Triduum, we celebrate the memorial of Our Lord crucified, buried, and risen.  Tonight we recall the Last Supper in which, on the night He was betrayed, Jesus instituted the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood.  We also recall Our Lord’s commandment of love and His own humble love and service in washing the feet of the twelve apostles, reminding us that Jesus came (as He said) “not to be served, but to serve.”

During the Paschal Triduum, we are celebrating Jesus’ Passover from death to life. That’s what the word “paschal” means – passage or Passover.  In fact, in Romance languages, the word for Easter conveys this meaning.  Easter in Latin is Pascha.  In Italian: Pasqua.  In Spanish: Pascua.  In French: Paques.  All meaning Passover.

Jesus’ Passover from death to life was foreshadowed by the Old Testament Passover, which we heard about in tonight’s first reading from the book of Exodus.  God told Moses and Aaron to instruct the whole community that every family was to procure a year-old male lamb without blemish, slaughter it, and apply its blood to the two doorposts and lintels of their houses.  (There’s another detail mentioned later in chapter 12 of Exodus – not a single bone of the lamb was to be broken). Then at a meal that same night they were to eat the roasted lamb, along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  God told Moses and Aaron that the people were to eat the meal ready to depart from Egypt.  He said: “It is the Passover of the Lord” because that night when the first-born would be struck down, He would pass over the houses marked with the blood of the lambs.  Finally, God instructed them: “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution.”  As you know, after the last of the ten plagues that occurred that night, Pharoah let God’s people go and thus began the great Exodus.  God liberated His people from slavery in Egypt and they began