Hekima College2By Charles Niyigena, SJ
Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Kenya

The Paschal triduum is a series of celebrations rich in meaning. While each event of the triduum was particularly enriching at Hekima College, I want to share with you what caught my attention on Holy Thursday: the institution of the Eucharist and Priesthood, and the washing of the feet.

It was customary to the Jews to celebrate the feast of the Passover, the foundation of which is spelled out the book of Exodus. God, wanting to free the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt, instructed Moses, to perform, on top of the ten plagues, a final act that would shake the heart of Pharaoh to the ground. God was to strike all the firstborns in the land but he would spare all the houses of the Israelites.

Each house was to be marked by the blood of the lamb so that the Lord, upon seeing the sign, may pass over. This was the last act of God to persuade Pharaoh’s resistance from letting the Israelites go to the Promised Land. Jesus celebrated this commemorative feast as tradition recommended.

However, towards the end of his mission, Jesus also needed to performed a final act so that we can be freed and have life in abundance. On the feast of the Passover, we are told, knowing that his time had come, he offered his own body and blood; hence instituting a new covenant, a covenant of love between humanity and God. In order to win the fight he was about to enter, Jesus has had to offer a sacrifice, not of an animal, and not of another person, but of his own person. The sacrifice start began at the table of the Passover celebration and was completed on the Cross at the Calvary. He made it so in order that we may have life, and be liberated from the forces of sin and death which threatened to engulf us. Moreover, at that the Last Supper, Jesus also performed a significant act. He washed his disciples’ feet; and by so doing, he challenged his disciples to follow suit in serving one another, in discarding greed and power, and in embracing love and service gratuitously. . Jesus has thus taught us that a true disciple learns from the Lord who is a master and yet humbles himself to the rank of a servant. Humility and service is what makes us heirs of the kingdom of God. A true disciple is always aware that authority of any form is not earned for self-glorification but freely given for service.Hekima College1

Just like the Israelites were freed from the slavery in Egypt and led into the Promised Land, being freed from the values of the world is the gift that Jesus gives us in the paschal mystery. The Eucharist that Jesus instituted and the priesthood that came with it energizes and sanctifies the Christian family. In sacrificing himself for our sake, Jesus showed how much love he has for us. As he calls us to be his faithful disciples, to partake in his suffering and share in his joy of resurrection, we cannot but be joyful as we care for our brothers and sisters, serving them in humility, trusting that he is always with us until the end of time.

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