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Maundy Thursday Homily

When I lived in Rome as a student, I used to visit the city’s many churches as I walked around and often pick up one of the free prayer cards that were available. One of these prayer cards I remember well. It had a picture of the globe and around it the hours of a clock and the names of some countries. There was also a picture of Mass being celebrated. At any hour of the day or night you could locate the part of the world where Mass was at that moment being offered (assuming it was being said in the morning) and a prayer so that you could ‘unite your sacrifice with Christ’s sacrifice.’

It is an amazing thought: the Mass renews, represents Christ’s death and resurrection, that central moment in human history by which we were redeemed. Over the last two thousand years the Mass has ceaselessly been offered, whether it be in the splendour of a gothic cathedral or the secrecy of the catacombs. 24/7 Christ’s sacrifice has been renewed and its merits made available to Christians. At any point of the day or night we can unite ourselves virtually with it.

In our minds, there is a physicality to the Mass. It is something we expect to be physically involved in. We go to church and, once we are there, all our senses are involved - we see the ceremonial, we hear the words and music, we smell the incense, we taste Communion, we touch each other’s hands. But that has all changed over the last few weeks. We miss it. Our routines are all destabilised.

Thanks to modern technology, we can tune into Mass, as you are all doing. It’s not the same, of course, though it’s a different way of participating - especially if you light a candle at home, and read the readings, and join in with the responses, and truly pray the Mass. Some people, I believe, have the Mass on their phones as they work or as they drive. I rather like it. Even though this might be a rather distracted engagement, it’s a way of praying at all times and living the Mass.

Tonight we give thanks for the Eucharist. Jesus left it to us so that He might always be present, so that the saving events of Good Friday and Easter might constantly be part of our lives. We give thanks for the times when we have physically attended Mass and made it the source. We ask forgiveness for those moments when we took it for granted.

Currently we are going through what might be called a ‘Eucharistic famine’. Our churches are shut. Perhaps we have a real hunger for the Eucharist! That, of course, can be seen as a blessing and we know that, if we wait with persevering faith and expectant hope, we will one day be satisfied. But let us remember that even now the Lord feeds us. He comes to us through spiritual Communion. At any time we can unite ourselves to the Eucharistic sacrifice!

O Sacrament most holy,...

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