April 13, 2017 – Year A
Readings: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14 / Ps 116 / 1 Cor 11:23-26 / Jn 13:1-15
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
A few months before Bishop Fulton Sheen died, he allowed himself to be interviewed on television. During the interview, the TV reporter asked him, “Your Excellency, you have inspired millions of people, not only in this country but all over the world. Can you tell us who inspired you? Was it the pope?” Bishop Sheen responded that it wasn’t the pope, nor a cardinal or another bishop, or even a priest or a nun. He said it was an eleven-year-old girl.
He explained that when the communists took over China in the late 40s, they imprisoned a priest in his own rectory. Looking through the window, the priest saw the soldiers enter the church and break open the tabernacle, scattering the Blessed Sacrament on the floor. The priest knew the exact number of hosts in the tabernacle on that day, thirty-two.
Unnoticed by the soldiers, a young girl had been praying in the back of the church, and she hid as they came in. That night, the girl returned and spent an hour in prayer in the church. Then she entered the sanctuary, knelt and bent over to take one of the hosts on her tongue. The girl came back each night, spent an hour in prayer and received Jesus by picking up a sacred host with her tongue. The thirty-second night, after consuming the final host, she accidentally made a sound, awakening the guarding soldier. He ran after her, and when he caught her, he struck her with his rifle butt. The noise woke the priest, but it was too late. From his house he saw the girl die.
Bishop Sheen said that when he heard about this, it inspired him so much that he made a promise that he would spend an hour each day before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He always said that the power of his priesthood came from the Eucharist. This is also where we get our power as God’s children. This is where we get our strength, from our Lord’s real presence in the Eucharist.
Tonight, Holy Thursday, we are celebrating the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the institution of the sacrament of Holy Orders. The Lord Jesus gave us this sacrament so that we might always have the privilege of receiving His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion until the end of time.
In a few minutes, we are going to celebrate the ceremony of the washing of the feet. When Jesus gave this great commission, when He told his disciples: “Go and proclaim the good news to all creation,” He also commissioned them, on the first Holy Thursday, not only to preach the good news verbally, but to live their faith by serving others, by showing their faith and how they help the poor, the needy and especially those who are most in need.
A story is told that someone asked Leonardo da Vinci, while he was painting the Last Supper, why one side of the table was empty. Da Vinci’s answer was simple – so that there would be plenty of room for us to join them.
In just a couple of minutes, twelve of the members of our Christian family here at Holy Name of Mary will represent us in the ceremonial washing of the feet. By doing this, we are being reminded to join our Lord not only in the supper, not only in the sacred meal, not only in receiving His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion, but as we get strength from Him, we may be able to go forth and do what He did.
The four gospels tell us what Jesus did on earth. He went about doing good all throughout His life. Let us ask Him to give us the grace that we may also do that.