The liturgy of Holy Thursday focuses us on both the institution of the Eucharist and the top notch commandment to love one yet another.
within the canon of the Mass, the celebrant says, as he always does, “On the night he changed into betrayed,” but tonight he provides “this is tonight.” The sacrament of the Eucharist exists in historical past and beyond history, so tonight really is “the nighttime he turned into betrayed.” And, of course, the effective imagery of the Mandatum rite, when the celebrant washes the toes of 12 disciples, draws us to ponder the abnormal nature of Jesus’ kingship, a nature so peculiar it might only be understood as divine.
growing to be up, i used to be taught that the closing Supper became a Passover meal, though contemporary exegesis has relatively well dependent that it was not. but it surely is not a bad thing for younger Christians to respect the Jewishness of Jesus as our faux seders led us to do.
these days, I need to name our consideration to one other manner that Jesus’ Jewishness is happen in Holy Thursday, the “excessive priestly prayer” recorded within the 17th chapter of Gospel of John. And that prolonged discourse facets us to a different Jewish feast, Yom Kippur. within the 2d extent of histrilogy Jesus of Nazareth, Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI at the time however writing in his own capability as a theologian, devotes a chapter to the excessive priestly prayer. Following the work of Andre Feuillet, he notes, “The ritual of the feast [of Yom Kippur] , with its prosperous theological content material, is realized in Jesus’ prayer — ‘realized’ in the literal experience: the rite is translated into the reality that it signifies. What had been represented in ritual acts now takes place definitely, and it takes vicinity definitively.”
The Day of Atonement that the Jewish people rejoice every year required the excessive priest to enter the Temple, to pronounce the holy identify of God and to make atonement for himself, for the priestly clan of Israel and for the entire community. This atonement reconstitutes the covenant between God and his people, which had been damaged through sin within the previous year.
Now, greater than ever, we deserve to encourage action and a perception within the common good. but we want you.
“in keeping with rabbinic theology, the theory of the covenant — the concept of establishing a holy americans to be an interlocutor for God in union with him — is ahead of the concept of the introduction of the world and resources its internal purpose,” writes Ratzinger. “The cosmos became created, not that there could be manifold issues in heaven and earth, however that there could be an area for the ‘covenant,’ for the loving ‘yes’ between God and his human respondent. every 12 months the Feast of Atonement restores this concord, this internal that means of the area it’s perpetually disrupted via sin, and it hence marks the high factor of the liturgical 12 months.”
The high priestly prayer includes a few key issues, however these days i want to focal point on two of them, sanctification and team spirit, and relying on Ratzinger’s insights. Jesus says, “Consecrate them within the truth. Your notice is truth. … for his or her sake I consecrate myself, in order that they additionally may well be consecrated in actuality.” (John 17:17, 19) To sanctify or consecrate is to quit some thing utterly to God which, perforce, entails setting apart the thing sanctified from our mundane truth. Sanctification is God’s work, now not ours, so anything has been sanctified is touched by the divine in such a means that it stands apart. It isn’t complicated to look how this can cause misbegotten ideas such because the “heroic priesthood.”
“The process of consecration, ‘sanctification,’ contains two interestingly opposed, however in reality deeply conjoined, points,” Ratzinger writes. “On the one hand, ‘consecrating’ as ‘sanctifying’ skill environment other than the leisure of reality that pertains to man’s general popular life. whatever that i s consecrated is raised into a new sphere that is no longer beneath human control. however this environment apart additionally includes the essential dynamic of ‘latest for.’ precisely because it is absolutely given over to God, this reality is now there for the area, for men, it speaks for them and exists for their curative. We can also also say: surroundings aside and mission form a single entire.” right here is the antidote to the clericalism observable within the “heroic priesthood” cant.
The 2nd theme of the prayer that warrants our attention is the conception of cohesion. Jesus prays, “… in order that they may also all be one; while you, Father, are in me, and i in you, that they also can be in us, so that the area might also trust that you’ve despatched me” (John 17:21). He repeats this plea for unity 4 instances.
We repeat this prayer every time we have interaction in ecumenical dialogues, and for obvious reason we do so much more after we have interaction in ecumenical prayer. “the world’s personal efforts result in disunion, as we can all see. Inasmuch because the world is operative in the Church, in Christianity, it results in schisms,” observes Ratzinger. “solidarity ca n handiest come from the father during the Son. … unity need to be visible; it must be recognizable as whatever that doesn’t exist in different places on this planet; as some thing it is inexplicable on the groundwork of mankind’s personal efforts and that therefore makes seen the workings of a higher vigor.”
within the early church, reflecting on this profound, repeated prayer for team spirit, Christians discovered the apostolic succession, the canon of Scripture and the “rule of faith” as foundational to such team spirit. to say, as some do, that these are “add-ons” is to omit the element: The seeds planted via Jesus grow and strengthen, as do all dwelling things, however the unity of the church is still rooted in what Jesus planted.
In our own time, we now have come to see ecumenical prayer as a given. Papal journeys automatically consist of a prayer carrier with our Christian and even non-Christian religious leaders. Who can neglect the alluring vespers carrier at Westminster Abbey at which Pope Benedict and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams presided together? The Week of Prayer for Christian harmony is celebrated all through the area with prayer capabilities.
here is all a fruit of Vatican II, which changed into itself a fruit of the Holy Spirit. when you examine biographies of the notable Churchmen of the late 19th and early 20th century in this nation, of Cardinal James Gibbons, and Archbishop John ireland, and Bishop Denis O’Connell, you recognize how frequently they clashed with Roman authorities as a result of they participated in civic ceremonies at which they were asked to offer a prayer alongside a non-Catholic minister. Rome, then at its sectarian top, was horrified. They will not have been.
On this Holy Thursday, in addition to being drawn into the emotional energy of the showering of the toes within the Mandatum ceremony, moreover acknowledging the deep gratitude for the establishment of the Eucharist and the priesthood, I encourage all and sundry to meditate on the excessive priestly prayer of our Lord and to pose to your self two questions. First, what will we do in the 12 months ahead to sanctify ourselves for the area, and, 2nd, what do we do to reply more wholly to the Lord’s demand Christian solidarity? we have come to the conclusion of Lent with its penance and almsgiving and prayer. Now, as we rejoice the paschal secret, let us ask what we are able to do to answer the Lord’s plaintive excessive priestly prayer in Eastertide.
[Michael Sean Winters is NCR Washington columnist and a visiting fellow at The Catholic University of America’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.]