Archbishop Patrick Kelly celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Supper in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King.
Listen to the Introduction to Mass and the Archbishop's Homily:
Introduction to Mass and Homily preached by the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. 7.30 pm on Maundy Thursday, 1 April 2010, in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.
Introduction to Mass:
Be attentive to these words in Pope Benedict’s letter for Lent. ‘Dear brothers and sisters, Lent culminates in the Paschal Triduum, in which this year, too, we shall celebrate divine justice, the fullness of charity, gift, salvation’. This evening we begin the Paschal Triduum: three days that are one day: one event that is threefold: a Supper: a Cross: am empty tomb. The fullness of charity, gift, salvation. Allow me to set tonight’s evening of the Supper of the Lord in a verse from the hymn which is one of the meditations of Saint Thomas Aquinas on the Lord’s Supper: we will sing another one as the evening moves into a night of keeping watch with the Lord in a garden. In Latin, then in English:
‘Se nascens dedit socium:
Convescens in edulium:
Se moriens in pretium:
Se regnans dat in praemium’
‘At his birth he gave himself as our companion:
At the supper as our nourishment:
Dying as our ransom:
Reigning in glory as our reward.’
Exorbitant charity: his whole being gift to us: and the fruit: salvation: our well being in body, mind, spirit, feelings, ambitions, attitude.
The fullness of charity: gift: salvation. Those three wonders of this Triduum are spelt out for us in the word of God we receive this eventide.
Charity: the resources of love and only love: the resources as available to the poorest of the poor: no less than to anyone else. It is a Lamb, not a lion that sets a people free: a Lamb that dies not a lion that roars. And that night which across the world people of the Jewish Faith kept as a day of festival two nights ago when the moon was full: all that they still long for in terms of reconciliation with God and the peace that is the fruit of justice, we have learnt to recognise and adore in Jesus the Lamb of God who loved us to the end: no power: no roar: but words whispered in an upper room and feet washed.
The fullness of charity and gift: the last supper is all gift: St. Paul insists: I hand on what I received from the Lord as a gift, not as a right. And he, on the night he was given over, handed over, betrayed, but it was the Father who was truly giving him, not sparing him for our sake: that night, knowing that he had come from God and was going to God, gave his body for us, his blood for us.
The fullness of love, accomplishing the fullness of gift. And all to accomplish the fullness of salvation. And salvation, wholeness, well-being of body, mind, spirit, feelings, desire, ambition is seen and understood and embraced in the washing of feet.
I have never found a more searching description of this wholeness, the life in abundance that is selflessness than these words of C.S.Lewis in his book: the Problem of Pain. He writes:
‘For in self-giving, if anywhere, we touch the rhythm not only of all creation but of all being. For the Eternal Word also gives Himself in sacrifice: and that not only on Calvary. For when he was crucified He “did that in the wild weather of His outlying provinces which He had done at home in glory and gladness”. From before the foundation of the world He surrendered begotten Deity back to begetting Deity in obedience. From the highest to the lowest, self exists to be abdicated and, by that abdication, becomes the more truly self, to be thereupon the more abdicated, and so forever. This is not a heavenly law which we can escape by remaining earthly, nor an earthly law which we can escape by being saved. What is outside the system of self-giving is not earth, nor nature, nor “ordinary life”, but simply and solely hell”.’
The washing of feet. It is salvation, it is life, it is a glimpse of heaven. That is why the one who loves us to the end, and gives us his all, gives us this Mandatum, Maundy, commandment: ‘I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.’