Holy Thursday 2021

January 1, 1970 Mass

Homily on Holy Thursday
Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
St. John Paul II Parish, Cedar Springs, Michigan
Mary Queen of Apostles Parish, Sand Lake, Michigan
Father Lam T. Le, Pastor
April 1, 2021

“He loved them to the end.”

(Jn 13:1)

On this evening, according to the Roman Missal, Third Edition, “after the proclamation
of the Gospel, the priest gives a homily in which light is shed on the principal mysteries
that are commemorated in this Mass, namely, the institution of the Holy Eucharist and
the priestly Order, and the commandment of the Lord concerning fraternal charity.” The
first of the threefold purpose reminds me of a visit to a family whom I ministered to at
the beginning of my priesthood.
Sixteen years ago, I got a call from the hospital to do an emergency baptism and to
speak words of hope and comfort to a young couple who had a little baby girl born so
prematurely. Arriving at the hospital, I was taken to a special room where they kept
premature infants. Medical people, after instructing me to wear all the protective gear to
keep germs away from a very vulnerable infant, explained to me: “While she was in her
mother’s womb, the umbilical cord connected her to her mother. From that cord, she
received all the nutrients to be alive and continue to develop until her normal birth. So,
with the birth so premature and the umbilical cord now severed, although medical
science is so advanced, please pray for a miracle.” After the explanation, I proceeded
with the celebration of Holy Baptism and prayed. The miracle did happen, and the
infant is now an extremely healthy youth with a bright future ahead. Thus, annually, I
visit this family to thank the Lord for the gift of life.
Friends, as the umbilical cord is important in our infancy development so much more is
the Holy Eucharist for our entire earthly life. It is through this Sacrament that you and I
received the fruits of Christ’s redemption. In fact, the Prayers over the Offerings for this
Mass of the Lord’s Supper pointed out this importance: “Grant us, O Lord, we pray, that
we may participate worthily in these mysteries for whenever the memorial of this
sacrifice is celebrated the work of our redemption is accomplished. Through Christ our
Lord. R. Amen” (Roman Missal, Third Edition). Why is it whenever the memorial of this
sacrifice or the Mass is celebrated, that the work of our redemption is accomplished?
“At the Last Supper, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and
Blood, by which the Sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated until he comes again; and till
then he entrusts the memorial of his Death and Resurrection to his beloved spouse, the
Church” (Sacrosantum Concilium no. 47). In short, whenever the Mass is celebrated,
the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is actualized on the altar. If there is any salvation, it
is from the Cross. If there is any holiness, it is from the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God
who was prefigured in the First Reading (Ex 12:3). Therefore, whenever the memorial
of this sacrifice is celebrated, our work of redemption is accomplished. My brothers

and sisters, on this night I ask you to do three things: be grateful to the Lord for leaving
us the Church, the greatest Gift: the Most Holy Eucharist; teach your children,
grandchildren, your loved ones, and all your acquaintances about the importance of the
Holy Eucharist like the umbilical cord is to the life of the infant, so is this Sacrament for
us on our pilgrim way; finally prepare to receive the Lord worthily in Holy Communion
being mindful of St. Paul’s teaching, the verse that follows the Second Reading of this
Mass : “Whoever, therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy
manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine
himself, then, and so eat the bread and drink of the cup” (1Cor 11:27-28). Go to
Confession frequently as the way to prepare for Holy Communion. All and all, let us
respect the Greatest Gift that the Lord Jesus left for the Church the night before he was
In order that the Church fulfills Christ’s command, “Do this in remembrance of me”
(1Cor 11:24), Christ the Lord instituted the priestly Order at the Last Supper. Priests are
ordained to do many things, but most importantly so that “the memorial of this sacrifice
is celebrated.” As most of you know, in March of 2020, due to many unknowns, our
bishop prudently “made a difficult decision . . . to suspend the public celebration of
Masses.” During that trial time, his priests were asked to celebrate Mass daily. Upon
receiving such a request, I recalled this teaching of the General Instruction for the
Roman Missal no. 19: “Even if it is sometimes not possible to have the presence and
active participation of the faithful, which bring out more plainly the ecclesial nature of the
celebration. The Eucharistic Celebration always retains its efficacy and dignity because
it is the act of Christ and the Church, in which the priest fulfilled his own principal
function and always acts for the people’s salvation . . . It is therefore recommended that
the priest to celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice even daily, if possible.” Your pastor not
only celebrated Mass daily during the challenging time, but even did so twice on
Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. In doing so, I asked the Lord to pour out the
grace of Christ on the Cross for the people entrusted to my care. In doing so, I renew
my faith: “whenever the memorial of this sacrifice or the Mass is celebrated, the work of
our redemption is accomplished.” Since this night, too, is the anniversary celebration for
all ordained priests, please pray all will grow in the grace of ordination. Recalling the
instruction of the Bishop at my ordination when he handed me the chalice and paten:
“Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God. Understand what you do,
imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross”
(Rites of Ordination).
The Eucharist manifests Jesus loved us to the end as we listen in Eucharistic Prayer IV:
“For when the hour had come for him to be glorified by you, Father most holy, having
loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” This prayer echoes the
introductory for the Last Supper account according to John. The Holy Eucharist is
called Sacramentum charitatis/Sacrament of Charity. Jesus is saying to us at every
Mass: “I have given you a model to follow” (Jn 13:14). Just like the Lord holds nothing
back from us, so we are called offer our lives at the services of others. Note has been
made regarding the difference in details of the Last Supper reported in the Gospel of
John and the synoptics Gospels. John did not record the institutional narrative, (how to

celebrate the Eucharist), but the washing of the feet (what the Eucharist means to a
community of faith). No wonder at the end of each Eucharistic celebration we are
dismissed “ite, missa est.” We are sent into the world to be witnesses to He who “loved
them to the end” (Jn 13:1).
Scriptural Readings: Reading I Ex 12:1-8, 11-14 ; Responsorial Psalm 116:12-13, 15-
16bc, 17-18 ; Reading II 1 Cor 11:23-26 Verse Before the Gospel Jn 13:34 Gospel Jn

We the people of the Roman Catholic Parish of Mary Queen of Apostles
see ourselves as the People of God