Readings, prayers and reflections are available below.
MAUNDY THURSDAY 1 APRIL 2021
Today's sermon is available as an audio recording here. Press play to start. [RECORDING IN PROCESS, TO FOLLOW SOON]
Love one another
No doubt we all seek and we should all like to be the architects of our own freedom, self-sufficient and self-reliant. But our freedom and liberation as children of God does not constitute a freedom as the world construes and understands it. It is Christ’s action in instituting the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, and his self-sacrifice for the sins of all that are the indispensable means of grace, of salvation and redemption that mark our true freedom and liberation for the bondage and slavery of sin, and from the material constraints of a fallen world.
“I am the bread of life … I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you: he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”
“All of us eat the one bread and receive the one body of the Lord; this means that he opens each of us up to something above and beyond us. He makes all of us one. The Eucharist is the mystery of the profound closeness and communion of each individual with the Lord and, at the same time, of visible union between all. The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity. It reaches the very mystery of the Trinity and thus creates visible unity … it is an extremely personal encounter with the Lord and yet never simply an act of individual piety. Of necessity, we celebrate it together. In each community the Lord is totally present.”
That God in Christ should deign to appear under the forms of bread and wine as the guarantee of his presence among us until the end of time, is an effectual sign of the divine love enfleshed in Christ and in the objective sacramental reality of the Eucharist. It is here that is most clearly articulated our unity and our communion: the unity between between God and Christ, what theologians call the hypostatic union, the Trinitarian unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the unity between Christ and us, and between us, as the community of the faithful, as the family of faith. It is what binds us in communion from our disparate backgrounds, with our varied opinions and abilities, vices and virtues. It is in this Sacrament, the Sacrament of Jesus Christ himself, that all these differences melt away. The love he shows for us is reflected in our participation in this Sacrament, in the love that we show to him. The love that exists between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the love which the Son showed for us in his Passion and Death, and is re-presented in the Eucharist, the love one for another that we enjoy, whether we like each other or not, within this community is focused in the Eucharist whenever it is celebrated, and with an especial intensity tonight.
Love is a word much open to abuse: a word much too casually used: a word prone to be sentimentalised and squeezed of meaning and significance by its promiscuous use. But if we want to know what love is, truly what love is, this is when we see it, in these three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Day of the Resurrection. And we first see it in the institution of the Holy Communion. Love is self-surrender: love is self-sacrifice. Love is about life and death. When W. H. Auden wrote that “we must love one another or die,” he encapsulated a profoundly Christian truth. Jesus showed his love for us through his Passion and Death, and that was not something sloppy or sentimental, but bloody and painful and agonising. It sometimes seems a reality too difficult, too challenging for us to contemplate, never mind to grasp. Its full force is apparent on Good Friday.
 HH Pope Benedict XVI Homily for Holy Thursday 2011. Vatican web-site