Lectionary Reflections: Holy Thursday, April 17, 2014

Engaging Faith | Thu, Apr 10, 2014

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Holy Thursday, April 17, 2014

Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern


Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

John 13:1-15



April 14: The Jewish observance of Passover begins at sundown

April 17: Holy Thursday

April 18: Good Friday

April 19: Holy Saturday

April 20: Easter Sunday



“The washing of the feet and the sacrament of the Eucharist: two expressions of one and the same mystery of love entrusted to the disciples, so that, Jesus says, ‘as I have done... so also must you do’ (Jn 13: 15).”

- Pope John Paul II, Holy Thursday, 2003


“Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison.”

- Pope Francis, March 19, 2013


“The Eucharist is a mode of being, which passes from Jesus into each Christian, through whose testimony it is meant to spread throughout society and culture.”

- Pope John Paul II, Mane Nobiscum Domine


“In the Eucharist our God has shown love in the extreme, overturning all those criteria of power which too often govern human relations and radically affirming the criterion of service: ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all’ (Mc 9:35). It is not by chance that the Gospel of John contains no account of the institution of the Eucharist, but instead relates the ‘washing of feet’ (cf. Jn 13:1-20): by bending down to wash the feet of his disciples, Jesus explains the meaning of the Eucharist unequivocally”.

- Pope John Paul II, Mane Nobiscum Domine


“We have a lot of work to do. Every time we reach out and assuage someone’s hunger, and do that in memory of Jesus, a sense of Eucharist will bring to consciousness the Spirit and the real presence of Jesus – in us, through us, among us. That Spirit alone is capable of transforming the world and us.”

- Miriam Therese Winter, MMS


Thoughts for your consideration

Today we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist.  We are a community that shares bread with one another.  Sharing a meal defines who we are and who we want to become. This solidarity is one of our core values and it is embodied in our social teaching.  As we share the Eucharist, we are called to create a world where resources are shared for the common good and all people are welcomed and respected, especially the poor. This is what Christ invites us to. This is what we desire. This is what we work for. God calls us to be a living Eucharist.

Today we celebrate the washing of feet. Service is what being a follower of Jesus is about. Jesus says: “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” Service, especially to the poor and all those in need, is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching.  As we focus on others, we focus on the values that are central to our social teaching. Our life is to be an ongoing washing of feet.

The interaction between Jesus and Peter reminds us of the mutuality of service that is essential to our social teaching. Peter, along with all the other disciples, is told to go and do the same, but first he is also told that he has to have his own feet washed. The Christian community is not a community of “domination over,” or a community where some have it and others do not, or a community divided by those in need and those not in need. We all need to serve and we all need to be served. In community we share our needs as well as our gifts with each other. Without this attitude, Catholic Social Teaching will be a shallow charity. Without this attitude we will not be able to create a true community. Our life is to be one of mutual “right relationship.”

The public spirit, action, and teaching of Pope Francis seem to make concrete all of these values.  He talks passionately about the need for us to serve one another and show special concern for the poor and the vulnerable. In his 2013 homily for Holy Thursday, he said:

“It is the Lord’s example: he is the most important, and he washes feet, because with us what is highest must be at the service of others. This is a symbol, it is a sign, right? Washing feet means: ‘I am at your service.’ And with us too, don’t we have to wash each other’s feet day after day? But what does this mean? That all of us must help one another. Sometimes I am angry with someone or other… but… let it go, let it go, and if he or she asks you a favor, do it.

“Help one another: this is what Jesus teaches us and this is what I am doing, and doing with all my heart, because it is my duty. As a priest and a bishop, I must be at your service. But it is a duty which comes from my heart: I love it. I love this and I love to do it because that is what the Lord has taught me to do. But you too, help one another: help one another always. One another. In this way, by helping one another, we will do some good.

“Now we will perform this ceremony of washing feet, and let us think, let each one of us think: ‘Am I really willing, willing to serve, to help others?’ Let us think about this, just this. And let us think that this sign is a caress of Jesus, which Jesus gives, because this is the real reason why Jesus came: to serve, to help us.  


Questions for Reflection in your Faith-Sharing Group

Share an experience of witnessing humble service. 

How did it touch you? How were you challenged?


Does the ongoing economic crisis and recession of the last six years cause you to in some way look at the Eucharist and the washing of feet in some new way? How does it challenge the values that have gotten our economy in trouble? How does it challenge us to reform and renewal?



Respect Follows Service

A dervish was once sitting alone, meditating in a patch of desert. A ruler passed by. The dervish, being free from the cares of this world, neither lifted his head nor paid any attention. The ruler, with the violent pride of power, was furious and said: “These dervishes in their patched cloaks are no better than animals!” His minister scolded the dervish and said: “The great ruler of all the world passed by and you did not stand and bow: why were you so rude?”

The dervish replied: “Tell your king to expect those people to bow who hope for some reward from him. Tell him that rulers are there to protect their people. The people were not created just to obey rulers. The ruler is the watchman of the poor, though he has greater wealth and glory. The sheep are not made for the shepherd, rather the shepherd is there to serve the sheep. Look around you: today you see one man carefree and successful, the other struggling sore-hearted to survive. Wait a day or two, and see how the earth devours the brain once troubled with so many foolish thoughts! When the irresistible decrees of Fate are issued, neither king nor slave remain. Open up the tomb and search these dusty bones: can you tell which was the rich man or which was the pauper?”


Actions – Links

As we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, we recall the scandal of hunger in our world.  Bread for the World has worked for over 30 years as a Christian voice for ending hunger.  Go to: The ONE Campaign is an effort supported by Bread for the World to rally Americans – one by one – to fight AIDS and extreme poverty. Go to:


“Crazy Facts”

Nearly 1.5 billion people in developing countries live in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.25 a day.

Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes.

In the United States, 14.5 percent of households struggle to put food on the table.

More than one in four American children are at risk of hunger. More than one in five children live in households that struggle to put food on the table.



“A recent report stated that no full-time minimum-wage worker in the United States can afford a one-bedroom or two-bedroom rental at fair market rent. There are 3.6 million such workers, and their total (combined) 2013 earnings is less than the 2013 stock market gains of just eight Americans, all of whom take more than their share from society: the four Waltons, the two Kochs, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett”



Prayers of Intersession

Response: God, bring us together as one people.

For all those who do not have enough to eat this evening, we pray…

For all those who do not have a home this evening, we pray…

For all those who live in fear of war, terrorism, and violence, we pray…

For all those who need to be set free from political and economic oppression, we pray…

For all those who alone and feel unloved and without community, we pray…

For all those called to service, especially to service of those most in need, we pray…

For our church, that we may be renewed in the spirit of Jesus and welcome all, we pray…

For those call to service in our church, we pray…








Thanks for sight

sight that comes in Jesus

insight about ourselves and the world

insight about the way of Jesus the way of compassionate love.


Thanks for life and all that nourishes life

the food of bread and grain,

fruits and vegetables,

meat and fish,

milk and all proteins

air and water

sun and breeze

earth and sea

space and mystery

friend and companion

stranger and refugee

young and old

the familiar and the new.


Thanks for the life of the spirit

for prayer and meditation

for silence and sound

for sacrament and scripture

for community and tradition

for poverty and wealth

for wisdom shared

for conversation and silence

for unity and diversity.


Thanks for all the challenges

for the call

to act for justice

to serve others

to live in peace

for the feelings that teach us

to know ourselves and others and you

to be restless for what is right

to speak out for what is good

to witness to what is of God.


Glory to you through all the ages! Amen!



Of Pope Francis washing feet as a bishop in Argentina:


Of Pope Francis washing feet as bishop of Rome in 2013:  

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