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Sunday, October 23, 2016
Holy Thursday sermon - Canon Pat Browne
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¬†Of all the meals that people have had together over the history of the human race ≠ from family meals in shacks or mud huts to the great state banquets of Kings and Emperors, the meal we are celebrating tonight is the most important of all. For a number of reasons. We are sitting at table with God himself. And as Pope Benedict reminded us in his recent encyclical on the Eucharist, He is not giving us some thing to eat and drink. He is giving us himself. The host ≠ the one who invited us is God. The food is God. And we are the guests - guests that are here not out of merit or for something we have achieved. The only qualification we have for being here is that we are invited. We are wanted. We are loved. What a priviledge! What a joy! At the Last Supper Jesus did some beautiful things. I want to talk about three of these. The first thing we are told he did was to take off his outer garment before he washed the disciples feet. We do this ourselves don't we, when we are going to eat? You don't sit there in your coat and hat. No, you shed outdoor clothes and are relaxed and open and honest with those you are going to eat with ≠ family and friends. But at this special Meal the Eucharist, the Mass we are asked to do this at a much deeper level. We are to take off our masks before God; Not to hide behind stories or rationalisations of our behaviour or excuses. To have the faith and the confidence in God to come and be what we are. Because that is the person he has invited. And being as we are and allowing him to seeing us as we are he can then relate to us and we to him honestly. And he can love us and forgive us and heal us. It is very difficult to relate to someone who will not let you see who they are ≠ the real person. If they try to hide themselves in this way they isolate themselves from everyone and in this case it is from God they do so. This is what Judas did at the Last Supper. He sat there seething, full of anger and resentment and maybe disappointment and he pretended everything was all right. We must not do that. God saw what was going on in him and it saddened the heart of God. We can expose ourselves to God because then he can relate to us and do for us what needs to be done, and show us how much he loves us. After Jesus took off his outer garment he washed their feet. There are many aspects of this humble action of Jesus that we could talk about here tonight. But I just draw your attention to one aspect. What he was doing was restoring life to tired feet. You know when you have had one of those days you have been on your feet all day and by the end of it they are just aching; to be able to put them in a basin of nice hot water restores them. That at one level is what Jesus was doing for the Apostles. But at another level by this humble act of love he was also restoring life to their souls and giving them rest. Sometimes we ache. Not just our bodies but our whole being. We are down. We feel a failure. We are not successful in being good people. Everything goes wrong and we don't feel very loved or are not very loving. In this action of Jesus ≠ God kneeling before his tired creature ≠ He restored them. He gave them back their dignity., their self-respect. He gave life to their tired souls - and he does so for us too. After this he ate and drank with them at the Passover Meal. It was then he gave them not as Benedict said something to eat. He gave them himself. My Body and Blood is Myself. Not because any of them deserved it. Indeed they were going to show in the next few hours how they did not deserve it. Judas would sell him for 30 pieces of silver. Peter would deny he even knew him and the rest would all run away ≠ except the youngest one John - and the women. So why did he bother? They were weak. But he loved them and he saw that they could never have happy or fulfilled lives if he was not with them. He knows that is true of you and me as well. There is an emptiness in us that stays till we let God in as part of our lives. When we take Holy Communion we let him in. That is why, after we have received the Eucharist at Mass, that we go back to our seats, close our eyes and take and enjoy the moment ≠ intimacy with God Himself "Make your home in me as I make mine in you"; Jesus says to each us here tonight. When Jesus comes home to us it is a fact that we then come home to ourselves. The emptiness is filled and we find peace and consolation ≠ and we know in that moment of intimacy, we are loved..
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