Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Holy Thursday

April 13th, 2017



Homilies are never the creative act of one person.  So as we begin to post these homilies on our website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be nothing original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week.  Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it.  ‘Tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time.  If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures.  

God bless you.

Father Shawn



At the end of his public ministry just before he was to ascend into heaven Jesus commissioned his disciples saying:  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19-20)


Go, make disciples, baptizing them & teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.


…and remember, I am with you always to the end of the age.


The Lord Jesus clearly wants us to know he is with us…and he is with us most profoundly in His Church, in His Sacraments…


Take this all of you and Eat of it.  For This is my Body.


Take this all of you and Drink of it.  For this is my Blood.  Do this in memory of me.


The Eucharist is not merely a sign or a symbol. It is Jesus really truly and substantially present in the Eucharistic signs of bread and wine. In chapter 6 of St. John’s  gospel, known as  His Bread of Life Discourse, Jesus says to not search for bread that perishes but look for the bread that lasts for eternal life. He says he himself is the living bread come down from heaven. And he clearly instructs them to eat my flesh and drink my blood. Here the crowd balks. There is nothing more theologically problematic and frankly disgusting for first century Jews than to think of drinking blood. Sprinkled throughout the Old Testament are prohibitions against eating the flesh of an animal with its blood. Blood was seen as life…it belongs to God. It was strictly forbidden for a Jew to eat flesh with blood in it. Here is Jesus speaking to a Jewish audience saying they should eat his flesh with blood. So you can see why the first century crowd balks. How can he possibly give us his flesh to eat?… is their question. This teaching is difficult; Who can accept it?  Jesus here is given every opportunity to explain his words. Instead he intensifies his language: “Amen, amen I say to you! Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life within you.” Then he intensifies his meaning even more:  “my flesh is real food my blood is real drink.”


Many who were following him leave at this point.  He doesn’t call after them and say you’ve misunderstood I just meant this as a sign or a symbol.  No. He lets them go…clearly indicating he meant exactly what he said.  My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.  Again, he intensifies even more…. turning to those who remain he said…And will you also leave…Peter speaks for those remaining…


‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’


This evening we celebrate the gift of two sacraments:  The Eucharist and the Priesthood.

This is my body.  This is my blood.  Do this in memory of me.

God wants to share His Life with us in giving us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist and in giving us His Priesthood so we can have the Eucharist.


Two other key qualities of this evening in The Mass of the Lord’s Supper are the great commandment, known as the Mandatum,  and the manner in which we are to live out this mandate…seen in Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples.


Last Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday. Just prior to the reading of the Passion Narrative, we heard one of the most ancient of the passages contained within the New Testament.…written soon after Jesus’ ministry had finished…They are St. Paul’s words concerning Jesus great self emptying. Chapter 2 of his letter to the Philippians… and scholars think he was quoting a hymn even closer to the time of Jesus than he himself: “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself.” (Phil. 2:6-11) This Mass of Holy Thursday deepens our understanding of that Mystery…of the self-emptying of Jesus Christ and calls us to imitate this self-emptying in our daily lives. Tonight, as well as the Eucharist, we celebrate the gift of the ministerial priesthood which continues to make present the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. When our Priest stands at that altar, it is Jesus Christ in whom He stands, Christ is the victim, and Christ is the Holy Sacrificial Offering. Jesus gave Himself to us in the great meal in which we participate on this Holy Night. At the Last Supper Jesus anticipated the altar of the Cross at which He would willingly pour out the very last drop of His Blood – so that we could be set free…


When the Lord rose from that table, He showed us a supernatural expression of Love; an expression that reveals the heart of the Christian vocation. He, who is Lord and Master, King of Kings, takes on the role of a slave. He washed the feet of those whom He had chosen to continue His Redemptive work. He showed them what they were chosen to do. Then He enlisted them to live lives of self emptying Love for the world.


To bear the name “Christian” is to walk in this kind of love in the midst of a broken and wounded world. We live in a world which God still loves. He still sends His Son into that world, through the Church of which we are members. That world is being recreated anew as He continues His Mission through the Church, through His sacraments and through each one of us living out his great mandate of self sacrificial love.


The early Christians spoke of the Church as the world in the process of being transfigured. And, we are a part of that Body, that Communion.  It is in this sense that we come to understand that Christian love is to be lived. In the washing of the apostles’ feet the Love of the Incarnate Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, is made into symbolic action. Love is a command, a mandate. The foot-washing during our ceremony this evening is more than a re-enactment of an actual historic event; it is a participation in the ongoing redemptive mission of Jesus Christ through His Church in the real world of now…of our time.  The Foot washing expresses what living a life of self emptying love looks like in imitation of the Lord who emptied Himself for us.  It is a command to become a man or woman poured out for others. A Christian who lives the love of Charity (Caritas), the Love of Jesus Christ, makes Jesus Christ present … makes Jesus Christ real…Shines the life and light of God into the events of our everyday lives.    In doing so, the Incarnation continues.  Another way of how he is with us always…He is with us always…through our acts of self-sacrificial love.


In our participation in the Mysteries of these three Holy days we will encounter the Lord’s call anew to follow Him, to bear His name in the everyday of our world.


Through grace we are capacitated to become an epiphany a manifestation of the self-emptying sacrificial love of Jesus the Christ.


“So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table …”You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (St John, Chapter 13)


Here, we encounter Jesus, showing the depth and substance of true love…self sacrificial service.   Shortly after this event we read of the continuation of this great Act of poured out Love. First Jesus inaugurates the great meal that is itself the very heart of the holy exchange, The Sacrifice, the Holy Oblation of Love. He gives Himself as food for those who will make the journey with Him back to the Father and invites them to bring the whole world with them. Then, this Innocent One walks the way of suffering and mounts the altar of sacrifice, the Cross on Golgotha in order to fully pour Himself out – every last drop of blood and water flowing from His wounded side – on behalf of us all, beginning creation anew, overcoming sin, paying the debt of justice and defeating the devil and the last enemy, death.


As we enter into this Triduum, These three great days, we are invited to make this mystery our own. Not merely spectators in this Act of Love…we are called and empowered to become participants. We who bear the name Christian are called ourselves to pick up that basin and towel, to climb up on that Cross and to learn -and to live- this way of Love in self sacrificial service in the everyday events of our lives.


Our faith and love are meant to be active and real. We live Love’s eternal promise by living like the One who washed His disciples feet. When, in self sacrificial love,  we serve and respond to the needs of those around us, we make the mystery of self-giving Love present in response to Jesus’ Mandatum: “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”


The Chief medical Health Officer of Kingston has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
Please read and observe the six key principles outlined below.

1) The key principle is that we come to Mass to worship God. Out of justice and exercising the virtue of religion we must give God what is God’s due. That quite simply is worship, adoration and praise. Thus, the absolute essentials of Mass will be included so that the Sacramental praise of God will take place and we will be exposed to one another for as brief a time as possible.

2) The second key principle is that the health and safety of parishioners, staff and clergy here at St. Mary’s are essential and require our utmost concern and attention. Therefore, the dispensation from the obligation to come to Sunday Mass by Archbishop Mulhall continues to be in effect. Those who are sick, elderly or have other critical health concerns should not come at this time. However, that is left to your discretion. Should you make the choice to come, knowing the risks, you are most welcome.

3) The underlying principle of all of our restrictions in isolating, physically distancing, wearing masks etc. is the common good as we live out the Lord’s commission to “love one another.” We are to care for each other and at this time we are called to be as prudent and careful as we can to protect the health of everyone else and ourselves.
4) The principle for the next few weeks will be brevity. The received scientific wisdom is that the virus spreads within groups who spend a prolonged period of time together. Therefore, we will be reducing the Mass to the bare essentials.
5) Singing is considered more dangerous than speaking so you are asked to please not sing at all throughout the Mass. I will not be singing either.
6) If you have any sickness, are elderly or have a critical illness you should remain at home. The dispensation from the obligation to come to Mass continues through this time of 30% capacity. Of course, if you choose to come you will not be turned away. We will continue to live- stream the Masses until we are back to a more normal arrangement.

The Chief medical Health Officer has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
We will pray a shorter Penitential Rite.
The Gloria will be said not sung. There is to be no singing by the congregation during the Mass. Only by a cantor or as we have today a physically distanced choir in the choir loft…3 metres apart.
We will only have one reading followed by the Psalm
The second reading will be omitted.
The choir will sing the Alleluia on Sundays. During the week it will be omitted. Please do not join in.
The Gospel.
A very brief (3-4 minute) homily will follow.
The Creed will not be prayed.
There will be no petitions. Please prepare your own petitions and offer them in your heart during the Mass.
There will be no procession of the gifts.
There will be no regular collections at this time in the Masses. It will happen later. Ushers will be at the doors to receive your offering as you leave.
The Eucharistic Prayer will be prayed. This is the Most Important Part of the Mass.
The Our Father
Sign of Peace. This is a time when we won’t shake hands. Please do not wave to each other or give the two finger sign of peace. Neither of these reflect what is the intention here…You are recognizing the presence of God in the other person and praying they know God’s peace. The most appropriate gesture is a slight bow or nod of the head to the other person. You have seen me do this at the sign of peace to all of you at every Sunday Liturgy.
Please be seated.
Then the ushers will direct you to the place where you will receive Holy Communion. Please do not leave your pew until an usher has indicated you should do so.
Another usher will be close to the Communion Station to receive your Sunday Offering.
When it is your turn to receive Holy Communion. You will stand 6 feet away on the red line. The person distributing Holy Communion will say “The Body of Christ”. You will say “Amen”. Then move forward within arms length and receive the Host. Once you have received go straight out the nearest exit and make your Thanksgiving on your way home.
Aisles 1 & 5 will come forward to receive Holy Communion and leave by the side doors.
Aisles 2, 3 & 4 will go to the back to receive Holy Communion.
Aisle 2 will exit by the exit closest to the rectory.
Aisle 3 will exit out the centre door which you came in
Aisle 4 will exit out the door by the washrooms.
You are strongly encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand. Receiving on the tongue endangers the person giving Holy Communion and yourself, the person receiving Holy Communion. If you wish to insist on receiving on the tongue please wait until the very end as the person giving Holy Communion should sanitize their hands after each communicant. The usher will pass you by and will come back to you after everyone else has received. Please don’t leave your pew until that has taken place.