A family meal binds parents and children together. Christ’s supper mass binds us to Him and each other. Gathered for that supper we welcome first holy communicants who will share the lord’s body in May and eucharistic ministers to be commissioned. And lets confess any failure to live the communion we celebrate.
The Latin name for Ireland was Hibernia, the green misty isle. Its an ancient Celtic Kingdom whose beauty and faith we should never sell out. What has this to do with the Last Supper. Well it was the first mass and the mass has always been a priceless part of this island’s greatness. In penal times people huddled in fields with a priests on the run. My mother told me how, long before cars, they walked to mass barefoot, over puddle filled roads on the back of the ditches with shoes tossed over their shoulders. They put them on when they reached the church. Going to mass was as essential as the seasons and brought peace.
This fits with its name which comes from the Latin “ita missa est, the mass is ended go in peace”. Only as faithful mass goers can we find life and peace. Those who question going to mass should realize that Christians are essentially a eucharistic people. Mass and communion is as vital to our soul’s health and growth as eating is to our body’s life and growth. We can’t thanks him enough for this great going-away gift.
Indeed, the word Eucharist means thanksgiving. In it we give thanks to Jesus for his last supper going-away present, communion. For it raises us up and guarantees our salvation. Christ says: he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day. He also says without it we cant have life in us.
For, like with the apostles, each mass is his life shared with us. After the resurrection the disciples recognized Jesus at breaking of bread. Its the same with us. Its at this eucharistic Meal we come to know Him. Hence after his ascension the apostles continued this practice. Christians met for “prayers, scripture and breaking of bread”, for union with Christ.
The Irish word for mass is aifreann or offering. Its Christ’s sacrifice on the cross offered again on the altar. Our loves, trials and sufferings are joined with his and made holy. So the attendance of each of us is as vital as the priest to the celebration. Each of us here is an apostle at the last supper
And like them it should inspire us to go out to change the world. Christ washed his disciples’ feet before communion. The message is clear. Attending mass is useless unless we go out to serve God and others, humbly, totally and unselfishly. He tells us not lord it over people in any way but love and serve them humbly. The church in palaces often forgot this as did abusing priests; they fell into the trap of serving their own power and perverted pleasure rather than the real loving service of others; what a perversion of the priestly role. So on the night when Christ washed the apostle’s feet, the first priests, before giving them the Eucharist, lets also wash each other’s feet. As an example of humble love and service let me now wash his children’s feet to make for the church’s failures in the past, and to show how we should really treat each other as humble loving people of self-giving service and peace.
Prayers of the Faithful:
And as the people of God at Christ’s Supper lets ask the father through him for all that we need..
For our Holy father the Pope and all the leaders of the church that they may follow the example of Christ, and be dedicated humble servants of the faithful, and all Gods children worldwide.
For our civil leaders that their public life may not be one of corrupt self-interest but of dedicated service of all the electorate, especially the poor and deprived…
For our youth that they may make the weekly Eucharist the center of the their lives and their growing relationship with Christ..
For ourselves that we may remain faithful to weekly supper of the Lord that is our life, and go out from that table of Christian community to serve others at home or in our work places with the caring humility of Christ…
For the sick, the lonely, the depressed and the needy that through our kindness they may know that Christ loves them…
For the success of this year’s eucharistic congress that it may recall the nation’s Catholics to the centrality of the Eucharist
For the dead that they may come to the final banquet of eternal life which they have already anticipated in the Lord’s supper..
So as we gather on this holiest of nights, lets thank God for the great gift of Christ with us forever in the Eucharist…
They asked Napoleon, the great general, when he was dying what was his happiest moment, was it when he took the crown of Europe? “No”, he said, “it was my first holy communion”. At last he realized what the greatest thing in this world is, to be part of the Lord’s supper, one with Him in an infinite glory no earthly fame or fortune can match. Lets pray that we’ll always cherish this gift that binds us to him and each other, and come to his table every Sunday with grateful and joyful hearts…Hail Mary.