Pope Francis declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy with his Papal Bull of Indiction ‘Misericordiae Vultus’. He sets the tone immediately with the opening line ‘Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy’. As we begin the Sacred Triduum I want you to reflect on those words and its meaning on our lives. I want you to understand and fully realize what it means to be disciple of Christ.
‘Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy’. Today, the Church celebrates that mercy in commemorating the mystery of the Eucharist and the institution of the priesthood, and to fulfill his desire to serve one another.
Mercy: The Eucharist - our Passover Meal
Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy…In our 1st reading from the Book of Exodus we have an account of the preparations for Passover. It was to be preparedness for the time of deliverance from the oppression and slavery of Pharaoh’s Egypt. And as the people of God the y were to commemorate the day: “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”
Likewise in preparation for our deliverance from sin and death Jesus instituted the meal of his Body and Blood in the form of bread and wine. This is what St. Paul tells us in the second reading and what our priests recite at every mass:
On the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
In every consecrated host, God gives himself and asks us, in communion with him, to give of ourselves to others: to become as the bread that is blessed, offered, broken and shared in the exercise of Mercy. When you say ‘Amen’ to the Body of Christ, you say ‘yes’ to receiving His mercy and ‘yes’ to becoming an instrument of his mercy.
Mercy: The institution of the priesthood
Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy…Our Lord commanded: Do this in remembrance of me (Lk 22:19). To our priests here in our parish and all priests, Happy Feast! today is also your day, it is also your celebration! We pray for all our priests in the Church and for the increase in vocations. No priests, no Eucharist, no Mass: it’s that simple. We can have other devotions and services but no Mass, and consequently, no Eucharist which is the source and summit of our faith.
Our priests personify the mercy of Christ, in healing both physical and spiritual wounds through the Sacraments of the Sick and Reconciliation. Our priests personify the mercy of Christ, by feeding and nourishing the hungry children of God, not only with physical food but with the “Bread of Life”, the Eucharist. On this Holy night that we commemorate, Christ gave our priests, the authority and the power to repeat this act of offering for the whole Church.
The priesthood is a divine vocation, a call to personifying the Mercy of God who is a loving Father, a Good Shepherd, who never fails to look for his lost sheep, to nourish them.
The Washing of Feet
Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy…in the gospel of John we hear his unique account of the washing of the feet. This act expresses the mercy of Christ in a simple yet profound way: God Himself descends in a meaningful gesture, one that Peter did not immediately understand and perhaps we, too, are struggling to understand because it is beyond our comprehension. The Master became a servant!
Can you imagine Jesus kneeling before you? I know I struggle with it but yet through this gesture Jesus makes visible the infinite mercy of God, a love that knows no limit and is not afraid to look and tend to the dirty areas of our lives that needs washing. If God cares so much about washing our feet, think how much more he wants to cleanse our hearts and minds!
To wash the feet of our brothers is a difficult act to perform, it requires humility. It is to accept bending down to our brothers and sisters in their suffering, distress, isolation, exile and needs. It requires us to look at the other who is waiting for us and in much need of us. Living and sharing the love of God has a cost: the Cross. There is no love without sacrifice, without the gift of self.
Sisters and brothers: these three gestures of mercy - the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of the priesthood and the Washing of the Feet, are embodied tonight, in all believers. In this Year of Mercy, let us draw nearer to God who knocks at the door of our hearts (Rev 3:20). We receive the forgiveness of God and in turn become instruments of this Mercy, obedient in this also to Christ who says to us: “As I have done for you, you should also do” (Jn 13:15):
As we participate in the Sacred Triduum, let us enter into the Easter season by continuing to reflect on the words of Pope Francis on the Year of Mercy:
1. Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy… We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness. (misericordiae vultus 1-3)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Hi, welcome to my weekly blog. I'm deacon Michel and I love blogging and the healthy exchange of constructive ideas. Now my mind has been known to wander on a million different things all at once so don't be surprised at what you find here. I often scratch my head and go 'Huh?' at my own thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts with me.
This blog reflects MY ongoing Christian journey: insights gained through the Holy Spirit, my experiences, my studies, my relationships. The content of this website is solely that of Deacon Michel du Chaussee, and does not represent the Archdiocese of Miami or any other entity of the Roman Catholic Church in any official capacity. Needless to say, I hope that none of my writings are contrary to the doctrines of faith and morals that are reflected in Sacred Tradition or as taught and guarded by the Magisterium of the Church or to the truths of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
For I take seriously what a very wise man has often said to me:
"Ordination is not license for private practice" - Msgr. A. Andersen