Thursday, March 29, 2018

The true gift

Maundy Thursday

John 13:1-15

We formally enter into the Paschal Mystery of our Lord, or the mystery of his passion, death, and resurrection.  We need to enter fully into this mystery and know what it means for us.   And if there's a word that would encapsulate its meaning, the word would be "gift".

As we are fond of receiving gifts, we also realize that gifts have qualities needed for them to become real gifts.  For instance, a gift has to be freely given with a joyful heart.  If it is forced because we expect to receive something, then it is not truly a gift.  The Holy Eucharist and Jesus' command of love, on the other hand, are authentic gifts from Jesus.  What constitutes a true gift?

First, a gift needs to be given in the spirit of pure, immaculate intentions, as pure as a young lamb prepared for the family during the time of Moses.  In the gospel, Jesus is Begotten Son anointed by the Father with the purest heart filled with love for all of us.

As we also celebrate the Year of the priests and consecrated persons, know that God who is holy expects that his ministers too are holy, and so are the ones who would receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Second, a gift is given in the spirit of great humility.  The washing of the feet is the most obvious manifestation of that state of humility.  Jesus who is God, humbled himself to wash the dirtiest, most used or overworked parts of the human body - the feet.  In order to clean and wash it, there's no other recourse except to bend back and head. 

In order to give the gift of ourselves generously to others, we need a huge amount of bending.  This is the mark of a true Christian, not in the times we received God's bountiful graces, but in the times we've given ourselves to others in humble service.

And third, a gift becomes redemptive to the recipient.  In the Old Testament reading, the blood of the Lamb became the sign of salvation for the people of Israel.  Meanwhile, the Angel of Death killed the first-born of those without this sign.  The sign of our salvation is and will always be Jesus.

May our every action as Christians always account for the salvation of others.  It's time that our every gift, the gift of ourselves becomes redemptive for others.  As Jesus has ordained priests and religious in every time and place, all of us are called to make a mark in the history of salvation by becoming Jesus' gifts for the salvation of the world. 

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