lithography of Last Supper in Missale Romanum

Bishop Burbidge's Homily for the Mass of the Lord's Supper

As we gather on this Holy Thursday, our central theme is love. We celebrate God’s infinite love for us perfectly revealed in His Son Jesus Christ, who on the night before He died and because of His love for us, gave us three precious gifts: the Holy Eucharist, the Priesthood, and an example/model to follow.

We celebrate tonight the Institution of the Eucharist. As our Catechism states: “In the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained” (1374). We know that the Lord gives us this precious gift not because we are perfect or without sin; not because we merit or deserve it; but because we are loved. Pray that in our lives and throughout our diocese, the Eucharist is always firmly believed, devoutly celebrated and intensely lived.

Tonight, we also celebrate the Institution of the Priesthood, through which the gift of the Holy Eucharist is perpetuated. At the Chrism Mass this morning, the Church invited my brother priests to renew their Ordination promises. The Liturgy also calls for the bishop to ask the People of God to pray for their priests. I renew that request this evening. Please pray, dear friends, for the wonderful priests serving in our diocese. In addition to them being men of holiness and integrity, pray that they will be known especially for the way they love in imitation of Jesus: in other words: sacrificially and unceasingly.

Within this Mass, we also commemorate the example of Jesus, the One who teaches us how to love.  The Gospel of John proclaimed this evening is unique in that it does not include the familiar words of the Institution of the Eucharist. Instead, the evangelist highlights the reality that, even though he knew He was Lord of all, Jesus took off His cloak and bowed in humble service and, thus, gave us an example to follow. Out of love, we are to wash the feet of one another. We do so when we put the needs of others before our own. We do so when seek not to ascend, but to descend in service of others, especially the poor, the sick, the brokenhearted, the lonely and all those calling out for our help. We do so when we forgive, from our hearts, all those who have hurt or offended us. 

On this sacred and solemn evening, we celebrate God’s infinite love for us perfectly revealed in His Son Jesus, the One whose Body and Blood we receive, the One who washed the feet of His disciples and said to us: “What I have just done for you was to give you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” May our love for God and one another be reflected in our faithfulness to that call at this sacred time and all the days of our lives. Amen.