Readings: Exodus 12:1-8,11-14; Psalm 116; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15

Holy ThursdayThis day, rich with symbols, with emotions, with touch, is almost too much to take in at once.

Experience the touch of hands at the table, giving and receiving unleavened bread, handing over bread and much more. Such a simple act, layered with memories of Passovers past, held in the sacred story of the first Passover, God’s great deliverance of the chosen people. Imagine Jesus passing the bread around to each one of his friends, slowly, deliberately. See him looking into their eyes with love, letting his hand linger in theirs.

Feel the touch of Jesus’ hands as he pours water over tired, dusty feet, reverencing the roads they have walked.

Centuries later, we gather to remember and to celebrate again the gift of our deliverance, the gift of Jesus’ handing over – bread, his body, his life, his Spirit. We gather as a motley crowd, “a body of bodies, becoming the Body of Christ” (Mary Collins, OSB). We receive the Eucharistic bread with renewed awe; we watch as ministers bend to wash our feet, old and young, callused and smooth, and we take up Jesus’ challenge: to do what he has done, to wash one another’s feet. We kneel before Christ’s abiding presence; in our prayer we bring the aching sadness of our world and its millions – our sisters and brothers – who know only violence, poverty and abuse.

May we let ourselves feel all the emotions of this day, this week – the pain and hurt, the bewilderment and betrayal, the tenderness and touch, the fleeing and abiding, the profound reverence and boundless love. Our God touches us, teaches us, through each emotion and experience.

This week is filled with darkness, with light, and with the muddled mix of both which names the human life that we have been given to live. That life is no less than the very life of Jesus, our brother and savior, handed over to us, handed over for us.

This Holy Thursday, let us receive from Jesus’ hands the wisdom of bread broken and shared, the wisdom of the “both-and” of life’s light and darkness, and the mystery of our God who is present in it all, and who loves us to the end.

Regina Bechtle

Sr. Regina, a retreat leader, speaker, writer and spiritual director, serves as Charism Resource Director for the Sisters of Charity of New York. She gives presentations to lay and religious groups about St. Elizabeth Seton and our Vincentian-Charity heritage of spirituality.


Image: Conger Design, Pixabay.