Homily for Holy Thursday, 2010

Father Tom’s Homily
Holy Thursday
April 1, 2010

Jesus was in trouble because of his bad table manners. The righteous religious leaders complained that he “ate with sinners.”
For Jesus, eating with sinners was not a ritual of rebellion. It was his inclusive sense of friendship. He enjoyed the company of the poor and the outsiders.

In response to the accusation that he “ate with sinners,” Jesus told his accusers the story of a father who celebrated the return of his runaway son with a festive banquet.
And when the other son stayed away from the banquet because of jealousy, the father went to that son to invite him to join in the meal.
In a sense, this other son was also a runaway. His heart was not at home with his father.

Today, Holy Thursday, we celebrate the Eucharist in a special way. Jesus’ story of the father with two runaway sons is a story about the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is a welcome-home banquet of the Father who remains in love with his sons and daughters even when they run away or ignore him.

The accusation that Jesus “eats with sinners” was meant to discredit him. It was meant to show that he was a strange Messiah.
This accusation is actually an excellent definition of the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, Jesus eats with sinners.
Instead of discrediting Jesus, this accusation is the reason that we are converted and become his disciples.

This Holy Thursday Eucharist remembers the First Eucharist, also called the Last Supper. In this Holy Meal we are embraced by Jesus, our Messiah and dearest friend who so enjoys our company.

(this page not used in 2010 Holy Thursday)

Luke’s gospel tells us that at the Last Supper there was a squabble among the disciples about which among them deserved the seats of honor at the table.
John’s gospel, which we have just heard, describes what followed. Saying nothing, Jesus rose from the table. Taking a basin of water and a towel, he went to each of the disciples, knelt on the floor and washed their feet.
At this their arguing stopped. All eyes were on Jesus as he went from one to the other washing the dust off their feet.
When Jesus finished this lowly servant task, he sat with them at the table. The room was still silent.

Looking at each of them, Jesus then said: “You must do as I have done.”
He was saying that the disciple must be a servant. None of this scrambling for honors.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero. He is an excellent example of the servant disciple.
He was assassinated because he served the poor. He listened to them. He said: “The people are my prophet.”

Jesus’ humble foot-washing proclaimed a revolution. It upset all the old ideas about how we are to look at God and how God looks at us.
Jesus, this kneeling, foot-washing servant Messiah, looks like a very strange God.
We have to get down on the floor where Jesus kneels to understand how God looks up at us.

It shows the extremes that God goes to, to love us.
This is indeed a strange God, a God who lavishes such extravagant love on each of us. A wonderfully loving God.