Loving to the end

The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Maundy Thursday, 06 April 2023
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14  +  1 Corinthians 11:23-26  +  John 13:1-15
Photo by author, Holy Thursday 2019, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

Tonight we begin the most solemn days of the year called the “Holy Triduum” of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil. All roads rightly lead to the Parish Church at sundown for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist that begins with the Tabernacle empty. There will be no dismissal at the end of the Mass, it is open ended. Most of unique of all in tonight’s Mass is the ritual of the washing of feet of some members of the community.

But there is something more beautiful to the ritual washing of feet. It is the context and words from John’s gospel that set the mood of tonight’s mood and tone of celebration as well as the hint of the meaning of Good Friday too.

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.

John 13:1
Photo by author, Holy Thursday 2019, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

First thing we have to consider here is the fact that “Jesus knew his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father.” He was never caught by surprise. Jesus knew everything, was never taken over by events. Luke said it beautifully after his identification as the Christ at Caesarea Philippi, When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem (Lk. 9:51).

We have heard in the first reading the story of the exodus of the Israelites, their passover from Egypt to the Promised Land, their passover from slavery to freedom that was perfected by Christ’s own pasch beginning tonight with his Passion, Death and Resurrection. This is our call, to live Christ’s Paschal Mystery daily, to be one in him, one with him, one through him in passing over life’s many challenges and trials.

To passover means to grow, to mature, to overcome, to hurdle. Every day we go through many series of passovers, from sickness to health, from sinfulness to forgiveness, from failures to victory, from our little deaths to our daily rising to new life in Jesus. This we can only accomplish with love, the kind of love by Jesus Christ.

That is the second, most important thing we must consider in John’s brief introduction to our gospel tonight, Jesus “loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end”. The Greek word for the “end” is telos which is not just a terminal end in itself but indicates or connotes direction. Or fulfillment and perfection, not just a ceasing or end or stoppage of life or any operation. Jesus knew everything that is why his life here on earth had direction which is back to the Father, with us. Everything he said and did was out of love for the Father and for us.

From google.

Love is the sole reason Jesus came to the world to save us because we have failed to love from the very beginning. It is love that Jesus showed us on that Holy Thursday evening to be fully expressed on Good Friday when he died on the Cross. His whole life was love because he himself is love. This he showed when he washed the apostles feet and after that, asked them and us to do the same with each other. That is love’s highest point when we are able to get to our lowest point of service and love. In our daily passover, it is love that moves us to keep on going with life’s many ups and downs because we love our parents, our siblings, your wife or husband, your children. Our vocation and the people entrusted to us. We go through our passover we because we love.

When Jesus died on the Cross, he said, “It is finished” – meaning, he had fulfilled his mission, that is, he had perfectly loved us to the end by giving us his very life. At his death on the Cross, Jesus showed us perfectly his love for us, the Father’s love for us that he had told to Nicodemus at the start of John’s gospel that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn. 3:16).

This is the love Jesus spoke of during that supper that rightly prompted St. Paul to put into writing, the very first one to do so in the New Testament:

Photo by author, 2019.

Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you…” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this in remembrance of me.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-24, 25

There on the Cross this was definitively fulfilled and perfected more than ever. Jesus did not have to die on the Cross but he chose to go through it because of his love for us.

Here we find the beautiful meaning of love expressed to us in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. More than obedience to commandments and keeping the laws of God by being good and kind with everyone, love is the perfection of life.

Love is our true destiny – end – in life, our call to life from the very beginning.

Keep on loving until it hurts. Until the end because God is love as John wrote in his first letter where he beautifully expressed, Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us (1 Jn. 4:11-12).

Love, love, love.

Photo by Ms. April Oliveros, Mt. Pulag, 25 March 2023.

My dear friends, only God can love us perfectly. Only Jesus can love us perfectly like what he did on the Cross.

Human love is always imperfect. That is why Jesus showed us the example of washing the feet of his apostles at the Last Supper.

In the Holy Mass, we all bow down before God and with everyone at the start to confess our sins, to admit our sinfulness “in what we have done and failed to do.”

In the Eucharist, Jesus fills up, completes our imperfect love with his love found in his words, in his peace we share with others, and most especially in his Body and Blood we receive.

St. Paul rightly reminded us of this meaning of the Eucharist, For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes (1 Cor. 11:26). This is why we have to celebrate Mass every Sunday. Most especially on holy days like tonight and Easter. Please, complete the Holy Triduum until Easter. Go on vacation some other date. Give these days to God who gave us his Son Jesus Christ by dying on the Cross for us.

Let us pray silently, be wrapped and awed by that mystery of the Eucharist Jesus established on that Holy Thursday evening at the Upper room.

Dearest Jesus,
teach us to love you more
by imitating your love,
of humbly going down to serve
even those who betray us,
of bending our hearts
to forego all bitterness
and festering anger within,
"let our tongues sing the 
mysteries telling of your Body, 
price excelling of your Blood"
in a life of loving service,
of daily dying in you
with you and
through you.

Have a blessed and meaningful Holy Triduum. Please pray and reflect on God’s love for us these days at home, in the church.

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