Holy Thursday 2024

Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, during the Last Supper

Many of us have had the privilege of sitting by the bedside of our dearly beloved family members and friends as they near that sacred moment of death. Our ears perk up and strain to hear their last departing words to us that we might treasure them in the days and years ahead—never to be forgotten.

Tonight, we listen attentively to the last words of Jesus as he bequeaths to us his last will and testament. He takes this opportunity to demonstrate by his words and deeds the essence of his message to all of us who would follow in his footsteps—that of Love and Service.

As we know, Jesus yearned to share with his Apostles the Passover meal. The first action Jesus took was an extraordinarily menial one that a slave would know well. Traveling in those days was a messy ordeal. There were no paved roads so before entering a home a servant would wash the feet of each guest.

To the astonishment of the Apostles, Jesus began to wash the dust and mud off their feet and then dry them with a towel. Can you imagine the heartbreak he felt as he washed the feet of a thief, a betrayer, a doubter, and the abandonment he would endure when these same men with whom he had shared such intimacy over the past three years, left him in his hour of need?

But this did not stop him. And so, he says to us this evening to forgive and love even when we are faced with similar treatment. “If I your master and teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14) Following this act of humble service and realizing how his departure would be catastrophic for them, Jesus desired to leave them a guarantee of his abiding presence.

Not long ago, I heard a story regarding human love by David Muir on ABC News that concerned a man who knew that his life was near the end and arranged for a bouquet of roses to be sent to his wife in the years ahead. 2024 marked his seventh anniversary and sure enough, the roses arrived.

This story of leaving behind a remembrance of human love and desiring to be in the presence of the beloved for all time parallels that which we celebrate on this special evening. There could not be a more exquisite moment in the history of loving relationships than when Jesus gave himself to us in the Eucharist. Just as lovers want to become one with their beloved, so too does Jesus tell us that each time we consume his body and blood, his Divine Presence blends into our own body and becomes one with us.

As Jesus gave his body to be broken and his blood to be poured out in the Eucharist, may we also give of ourselves in service to our brothers and sisters near and around the world who are today’s refugees, migrants, trafficked and abused. And thus, by our deeds, the world will know that we are living our Jesus’ words: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life” for another. (John 15:13)


– Sister Helen R. Boyd, OPSister Helen Robert Boyd

 Sister Helen resides in Dominican Convent where she serves
on the Life Enrichment Committee and co-chairs the
Mission Outreach Committee.



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