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Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Holy Thursday - 10th Anniversary of the Death of Saint John Paul II
As I mentioned at the beginning, it's so good to have Father Martello back and here at my side.
Today is the tenth anniversary of the death of John Paul II. He died April 2nd, ten years ago, 2005. I know that one of the things he struggled with toward the end of his life was Parkinson's, and he continued to do amazing things as our Holy Father, even with his Parkinson's.
What I would like to do is draw from the last Holy Thursday Mass he celebrated. There are three points he really focuses on: The first is that Jesus loved him until the end; the second is the washing of the feet; and the third is a commission to “do this in remembrance of me.”
So these three points: loving him until the end; the washing of the feet; and doing this in remembrance of me.
First, he loved his disciples until the very end. John Paul II said, "On the eve of his passion and death, the Lord Jesus wanted to gather his apostles around him once again to entrust his last instructions to them and to give them the supreme witness of his love."
It is such a great privilege to have Father Martello with us and for all of us to gather around the altar today to experience the love of God the Father.
"Let us also enter the large upper room furnished and ready, and dispose ourselves to listen to the most intimate thoughts he wants to confide in us; in particular, let us be ready to receive the act and the gift he has prepared in view of this final meeting."
There is something Jesus wants to do right now to you. There is something he wants to place in you, and it's his love. He wants you to experience his love on this Holy Thursday, so that you* can enter into the passion of good Friday and ultimately the resurrection of the Holy Saturday. [NOTE: You switched from YOU to WE, so I switched it back to keep things parallel.]
It's such a privilege to love until the very end. Father Martello and I often joked about what it's like to get old together. He looks at me as a young priest, and he's kind of getting older -- a little bit. If nothing else, he's grown a beard for us, right? That beard will be on for at least another four weeks. As long as the cast is on, the beard will be on. That's his defiance against his cast.
But it's been a privilege. [WHAT’S BEEN A PRIVILEGE? SHOULD EXPLAIN.] Father Martello has apologized to me a couple of times. In all sincerity and genuineness, he said, "I'm sorry you have to do everything. I'm sorry that I have been in here." [CAN YOU MENTION THE NAME OF THE PLACE, OR JUST WHAT KIND OF PLACE IT IS SO PEOPLE UNDERSTAND -- IN CASE THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON WITH HIM? OR MAYBE YOU COULD SWITCH WHAT HE SAID TO “I’m sorry I haven’t been there.”] But for me it has been an absolute privilege. You know, I wouldn't have had it any other way.
I think about Jesus as he comes to the end of his time, and about me coming to the end of my time with you here at St. Joseph. What a privilege and honor it is for me to take this role, to assist Father Martello, to really be an associate and to help him in every way.
I think of one of the most comical moments we've had in our time together. Sometimes it's like Driving Miss Daisy. I get to drive Father Martello around, and I love it. I actually do. He's a little bit slow when he walks, so I have time to run to the car and bring it back and valet him.
One time we went to the movies together. Actually, we went with a group of parishioners. It happened that one parishioner drove us there and a different parishioner was going to take us home. After the movie, we left the theater. I wasn't quite sure what kind of car would be picking us up out front.
So a driver pulls up and flashes his lights, and I take Father Martello over to the car. I open up the door. Fr. Martello gets in the back seat. I go around to get in the back seat. I look and the driver is a stranger. Can you imagine the shock for this person who’s expecting his 12-year-old daughter or son to get into the car, and he sees the two of us instead? It was like something straight out of Goodfellas. That's one of my favorite memories.
Early on when he was in the hospital, I was privileged to get to shave him and wash him. He was really weak then, but he's doing really well now. He looks great and is feeling great and is able to walk around. In the beginning, though, he really was weak, and again, I can say I was privileged to have the opportunity to care for him. I know Father Martello doesn't [didn’t] like it. Just like Peter: “You're not going to wash my feet.” I tried, believe me.
But it's a real privilege to be able to love someone like that and to be loved like that. I think about John Paul II. As he grew older, he had to allow himself to be cared for. When he spoke with the doctor who diagnosed his Parkinson’s, he discovered the doctor had depression, and he offered him pastoral counseling and care.
The second point is the washing of the feet. During that last supper, Jesus rises, takes off his outer garments, and begins washing the disciples' feet. At first Peter resists, and then he understands and accepts. We too are asked to understand and to accept: The first thing the disciple must do is prepare himself to listen to the Lord. That's the first thing we must do: understand what Jesus is asking of us. We must sit at his feet and try to understand -- open our hearts to accept the invitation of his love. Once we understand that, we accept how God wants to love us right now, whatever our state of life.
Only then will we be invited, in turn, to do what the Teacher did. We, too, must be committed to washing the feet of our brothers and sisters, expressing in gestures of mutual service that love which is the synthesis of the Gospel: to “love one another as I have loved you.”
Also during the Last Supper, knowing that his hour had now come, Jesus blesses and breaks the bread, then gives it to his disciples and says, "This is my body.” He does the same with the cup. "This is my blood.” And he commanded them, "Do this in remembrance of me." Truly this is the witness of love taken to its very end. This was one of the last days of his life, and this what he wanted to give to his disciples.
It's initiative. It's Jesus who first goes into that mode of loving. It's Jesus who kneels before his disciples and washes their feet, and that washing of the feet and the sacrament of the Eucharist become what we celebrate today: The revelation of his love in the Eucharist and in the washing of the feet. Receiving his love, feeling his love, and then going out and serving and caring for those whom we love.
Maybe you have someone in your life right now that you’ve taken care of. I know one of the most difficult things for people is when their parents get old and infirm and they have to begin taking care of them. Sometimes that becomes a full-time job, a full-time vocation. You're being invited to a very sacred time, a very special time, and it will not go on forever. Only for a time is Jesus calling you to this wonderful privilege of service.
Finally the third point: “Do this in remembrance of me.” The remembrance the Lord left us that evening encompasses the entire point of why he came to this earth, the moment of the sacrificial offering to the Father out of love for humanity. This is the remembrance and it's placed in the context of the Last Supper. This is how we remember him. This is how we experience his love today. This is what motivates us to love others.
“Do this in remembrance of me.” It is the mystery of our faith. This is what the celebrant proclaims after saying the words of consecration, and all of you respond with that joyful mystery. This mystery, as John Paul says, is that God loves us so much it’s incomprehensible. It's incomprehensible that he wants to be with us right now in the flesh, in his body and blood. He wants to come into us.
The table of the Lord in the simplicity of the Eucharist is where we share the bread and wine. It's where we come together as brothers and sisters. This message will radiate throughout the entire world and it's too clear to be missed: those who take part in the Eucharistic celebration cannot remain impervious to the expectations of the poor and needy.
Those of us who gather and receive the Eucharist cannot help but love those who are in need. This is where we come to be loved and to be strengthened so we may serve.
We celebrate the gift of the Eucharist and the gift of the priesthood tonight. I know that's why Father Martello is here: his priesthood is so important to him and the celebration of the Eucharist is so important to him. As I mentioned at the beginning of mass, we pray for him every single day -- at daily masses and at Sunday masses; every day we pray for our pastor, Father Martello, and it's been a wonderful privilege. I want you to know that he's also been praying for us.
I always try to bring him Chipotle, but one of the things he asked me to bring him was actually his mass book. I brought him a mass book that came from my family, so he's been celebrating mass in the nursing home. He's been doing that for all of you. He's actually been more effective now as a pastor than he ever could have been -- through his suffering and through his illness that he's offered up for all of us and sacrificed in unity with the mass.
So remember the great privilege it is, first of all, to gather here and to celebrate the Eucharist. Jesus loved us until the end. We get to experience his love right here. And he promised to love us until the very end.
The second thing is that he promised the washing of the feet. We must first listen to him. We must first come to hear his word and to receive his body and blood and then we become disciples.
Finally, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Every time we do this, and the priest says, “This is my body; this is my blood,” Jesus is present. He's real. He's with us. And after we receive them, he also says, "Do this in remembrance of me." Go out into the world and wash the feet of people who need it.
Think right now about someone in your life whom you get to care for. Think about that great privilege, and remember that this isn't just by chance. This is a time in your life when Christ is really allowing you a great moment and a great privilege to "Do this in remembrance of me."
John Paul II 10th anniversary of his death
MASS OF THE LORD'S SUPPER
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Holy Thursday, 17 April 2003
1. "He loved them to the end" (Jn 13: 1).
On the eve of his passion and death, the Lord Jesus wanted to gather his Apostles around him once again to entrust his last instructions to them and to give them the supreme witness of his love.
Let us also enter the "large upper room furnished and ready" (Mk 14: 15), and dispose ourselves to listen to the most intimate thoughts that he wants to confide to us; in particular, let us be ready to receive the act and the gift that he has prepared in view of this final meeting.
2. So, while they are eating, Jesus rises from the table and begins to wash the disciples' feet. At first Peter resists, then he understands and accepts. We too are asked to understand: the first thing the disciple must do is to prepare himself to listen to the Lord, opening his heart to accept the initiative of his love. Only then will he be invited, in turn, to do what the Teacher did. He too must be committed to "washing the feet" of his brothers and sisters, expressing in gestures of mutual service that love which is the synthesis of the whole Gospel (cf. Jn 13: 1-20).
Also during the Supper, knowing that his "hour" had now come, Jesus blesses and breaks the bread, then gives it to the Apostles saying: "This is my body"; he does the same with the cup: "This is my blood". And he commands them: "Do this in remembrance of me" (I Cor 11: 24.25). Truly this is the witness of love taken "to the end" (Jn 13: 1). Jesus gives himself as food to his disciples to become one with them. Once again the "lesson" emerges that we must learn: the first thing to do is to open our hearts to welcoming the love of Christ. It is his initiative: it is his love that enables us, in turn, to love our brethren.
Therefore, the washing of the feet and the sacrament of the Eucharist: two expressions of one and the same mystery of loveentrusted to the disciples, so that, Jesus says, "as I have done... so also must you do" (Jn 13: 15).
3. "Do this in remembrance of me" (I Cor 11: 24) The "remembrance" the Lord left us that evening encompasses the crowning moment of his earthly existence, the moment of his sacrificial offering to the Father out of love for humanity. It is the "remembrance" that is placed in the context of a supper, the paschal meal, in which Jesus gives himself to his Apostles under the appearances of bread and wine, as their nourishment on the journey to the heavenly homeland.
Mysterium fidei! This is what the celebrant proclaims after saying the words of the consecration. And the liturgical assembly responds, joyfully expressing its faith and adherence filled with hope. The Eucharist is a truly great mystery! A mystery "incomprehensible" to the human mind, but so full of light to the eyes of faith! The Table of the Lord in the simplicity of the Eucharistic symbols - the shared bread and wine - are also revealed as the table of concrete brotherhood. The message that radiates from them is too clear to be missed: those who take part in the Eucharistic Celebration cannot remain impervious to the expectations of the poor and needy.
To suffer means to become particularly susceptible, particularly open to the working of the salvific powers of God, offered to humanity in Christ. In him God has confirmed his desire to act especially through suffering, which is man’s weakness and emptying of self, and he wishes to make his power known precisely in this weakness and emptying of self. (SD 23)
God suffers with us in doing so he suffers more than we do and as long as there sis suffering in the world, he shares this suffering, he experiences compassion. Von Balthasar