Homily for the evening mass of the Lord’s Supper at Angra Cathedral

Also in this year, God, with his merciful love, grants us the grace to be able to celebrate the Paschal Trinity, which begins with the passionate and always important evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This new opportunity that God presents to us is characterized this year by three situations that we cannot ignore:

= First, a temporary community of the Diocese of Angra without its bishop, the former being transferred to the Diocese of Viana do Castelo. It is a special case for which the entire diocese is called to live this celebration in a special spirit of faith. We must pray for the success of the process of appointing a new bishop and for that person who, according to the plan of Providence, will be chosen by Pope Francis to be the new pastor of this diocese. This, then, is a time of intense prayer as well as a renewed commitment to continuing one’s service and witness in church and in society.

Secondly, the international community is going through a period of great anxiety and suffering due to Russia’s war against Ukraine, which is causing a huge number of dead, wounded and refugees, as well as destruction, poverty, hunger and disease. It is our duty to direct our prayers to God so that the war ends with the intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, and wounds are healed, and paths of peace, reconciliation and prosperity are opened.

= Third, in Portugal as well as in many countries around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause pain, uncertainty, death and many other negative consequences. This is a situation that must be faced with wisdom, as well as with a sense of responsibility and solidarity. We ask the Lord to show us what all this means and what decisions we must make to be true and steadfast Christians.

The Eucharistic Mystery, the institution of which we celebrate on Holy Thursday afternoon, must always be closely connected with the reality in which people, the Church and all humanity live. The sacrifice that Jesus offered for himself on the cross, which is the memory of the Eucharist, is always closely connected with the conditions of human history. The observance of the Lord’s Supper is not an escape from the world and history, but the moment when Jesus Christ, by virtue of his death and resurrection, also presumes the transformation of crosses into a sacrifice of atonement and glory that pleases God. dad. All the tears of mankind, united by the blood of Christ, can be turned into precious pearls to redeem the whole world. God asks the Church, as she exercises her priestly ministry, to know how to unite by the sacrifice of her Son with the sufferings of all mankind for her salvation.

The liturgical celebration of this Holy Thursday is a moment of grace in which we have the opportunity to better understand the centrality of the Eucharistic mystery in the lives of individuals and groups. Indeed, this makes us understand that in our case as human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, we have our first and primary calling to praise and glorify God and give thanks to God for all his miracles. It is an attitude of thanksgiving that dominates the religious experience of the people of Israel, who were also cognizant of all the wonders that God had wrought in their history: the psalms are filled with expressions of praise, glory, and gratitude; The same sentiments dominated the ceremonies and rituals that the pious Israelites performed with faith and devotion.

As is so well expressed in today’s first reading, taken from the Book of Exodus, a deep feeling of gratitude marked above all the annual celebration of Easter, in which God was praised for allowing the annihilating angel to spare his thanksgiving from death. To the blood of the lamb that is on the pillars of their houses. These and many other wonders, performed especially during the Exodus, became the reason why the people of Israel used to celebrate a series of feasts every year to praise and thank God.

Since the Last Supper of Jesus with his apostles, the celebration of the Eucharist has become the most beautiful, richest and most intense thanksgiving that men can give to God; And all this through the merits of suffering and death that Jesus Christ accepted for the salvation of the world, our redemption, and deliverance from Satan, death and sin. So Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross became the most acceptable offering that believers could make to God to express all their gratitude. It is the sacrifice of the new and eternal covenant that allows us to be reconciled with the good and merciful God.

We understand, then, why the celebration of the Divine Liturgy is so important in the life of the believer, the family, and the community: it is the most beautiful, effective and meaningful expression of our praise and gratitude to God. It is the celebration in which – though our lives have been marked by joys and tragedies, prosperity and pestilences, successes and failures – we always proclaim: “Holy, holy, holy, God of the universe!” In spite of everything, we always praise God through the celebrating priest with the words: “By Christ, with Christ, in Christ to you, God the Father Almighty in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory forever and ever., for many centuries. Amen. “. These are the words expressing the praise and glory which, by the merits of Jesus Christ, we must continually raise to God and which mark the great feast in the Father’s house, where we are all called to partake of eternity.

Nevertheless, we shall be worthy to celebrate the Eucharist on this earth and receive the eternal inheritance as much as we shall imitate the tangible and perfect love of Jesus who gave his life for the salvation of all mankind. We know that the gesture of washing the apostles’ feet was a symbol of that boundless love that reached its fullest expression on the cross. The observance of this Holy Thursday is then a moment of grace in which we must, in communion with the whole Church, renew our commitment to the love of Jesus, take up our cross and follow Him.

Without a doubt, many of us already praise God with our lives, imitate Jesus, and take up our cross every day and follow Him. But it may not really be because of contradictions, middlemen, hypocrisy, and pettiness. So we ask the Lord that the celebration of this afternoon and the whole of Easter be an opportunity to assess the quality of our faith, hope and love.

Angra Cathedral, April 14, 2022

Evo Scapolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Portugal

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