Reflection for Holy Thursday

Sr Eleanor continues her series of reflections on the entrance antiphon with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

 

We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered.  (cf Gal 6:14)

The celebration of the Paschal Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening, and continues through to Easter Sunday. These are the most solemn and intense days of the Church’s year.

The text of the entrance antiphon on Holy Thursday evening brings us to the heart of what we are celebrating: the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. “It is out of the question,” wrote St Paul to the Galatians, “that I should boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The cross in itself is a symbol of degradation, humiliation and disgrace. But because Jesus accepted death on the cross and so reversed the annihilating power of death itself, it has become a symbol of victory and glory. Through the cross Jesus “has made himself our salvation, by dying for us; our life, by the bread of heaven he has given us; and our resurrection by rising from the grave”,* and so we should not just not fear or run away from the cross, we should positively glory in it.  Such an attitude, nonsensical to many both in Jesus’ time and today, springs from deep faith.

Followers of Christ, we not only admire the mystery of the cross, we actually participate in it.  We do so in two ways.  By bearing our own crosses and sufferings in his spirit and in union with him, we are joined to his passion and cross and make the passage with him through suffering and self-offering to God into the depths of unfathomable love which lie on the other side of that cross.  We also participate in the mystery of the cross by celebrating the eucharist, the liturgical remembrance of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection, and by sharing in holy communion. Today, the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper particularly focuses on that first Eucharist which Jesus shared with his disciples in the upper room, before going out to his ghastly final hours of earthly life.

Through him we are saved and delivered. Let us glory in the cross by which that salvation and deliverance were achieved.

 

*Dom Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, Vol VI: Passiontide and Holy Week, p. 337.

 

Here is the Latin chant version of this antiphon:

 

You can listen to it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrGv6PwmxHQ

(Solesmes, via Nullam Causam)

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