KOTA KINABALU – The Mass of the Lord’s Supper is noted for three distinct parts: the washing of the feet of 12 selected men, the procession bearing the Eucharist to the chapel of reservation after post-Communion prayer, and the stripping of the altar.
Archbishop John Wong washed the feet of 12 men after the homily at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, 29 Mar 2018, at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here.
The men represented the various ministries and communities of the parish: extraordinary ministers of holy communion (5), wardens (4), lectors & commentators (2), and 1 ordinary parishioner.
In his homily, Archbishop John Wong said that the Holy Thursday liturgy stresses three points: the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of Holy Orders, and the mystery of Christ’s self-sacrificing love.
The prelate was joined at the altar by Abp Emeritus John Lee and Father Simon Lim, a Sabahan priest serving in Singapore. Deacon Russell Lawrine assisted at the altar.
At the end of the prayer after communion, omitting the other concluding rites, a procession was formed which made its way to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel with incense and candles.
After the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament to the chapel, the altar was stripped. The stripped altar symbolises the human body of Christ which was stripped of its garments: “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing” (Ps 22:18).
The holy water was emptied from the stoups. The church was left bare, in striking contrast with the richness of the Altar of Repose.
Around two thousand faithful gathered for the bilingual -English and BM – celebration. Parish groups and ministries took turns to adore the exposed Blessed Sacrament in the chapel after Mass.
The significance of Holy Thursday is given below:
The Holy Thursday Liturgy takes place after sundown – because Passover began at sundown – marking the end of Lent and the beginning of the sacred Triduum (three) of Holy Week. These days are the three holiest days in the Catholic Church.
This Mass stresses the importance Jesus puts on the humility of service, and the need for cleansing with water, a symbol of baptism. This is seen in the washing of the feet of twelve people by the presider. Also emphasised are the critical importance of the Eucharist and the sacrifice of Christ’s Body, which is now present in the consecrated Host.
At the conclusion of the Mass, the faithful are invited to continue Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the night, just as the disciples were invited to stay up with the Lord during His agony in the garden before His betrayal by Judas.
After Holy Thursday, no Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until the Easter Vigil celebrates and proclaims the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. – CNA