Holy Thursday

They shall eat its roasted flesh. (Exodus 12:8)

Have you ever wondered why the Israelites had to eat the meat from the Passover lamb they had sacri­ficed? They had already painted the blood of this lamb on their doorposts and lintels. They had already waited breathlessly for the angel of death to pass over them. And it worked. The blood kept them safe and saved them from bondage! So why did they have to take the next step and eat the lamb? Was it just a ceremonial prac­tice? Or was there something else God wanted for them?

It’s helpful to remember that the night of the Passover was only the beginning of the story for the Israelites. They were about to embark on a very long journey, so they needed the sustenance that this meal would give them. Without that food, they would not have been able to make the trip. Their deliverance would be a hollow victory if they didn’t have the strength they needed for the journey ahead.

It’s easy to see the application for our lives today. We too need the spir­itual protein that comes from eating the flesh of Jesus, our Paschal Lamb. When he died for us, Jesus pardoned us and cleansed us of our sins. Death was no longer a threat for us. But that’s not the end of our story. We too have a long journey ahead of us, and we too need all the suste­nance we can get. That’s why Jesus left us his presence in the Eucharist! He gave us the precious gift of this heavenly banquet so that we could find all the strength—and transfor­mation—we need to make it safely to the Promised Land.

Tonight begins the Easter Triduum. What better way to cel­ebrate the next three days than to receive communion at every oppor­tunity? If you haven’t gone to confession yet, there’s still time. Try to empty yourself of all that divides you from the Lord. Then come to the feast hungry and thirsty. He will sat­isfy your every need. He will fill you with his comfort, his encouragement, and his grace.

“Jesus, you are the Lamb of God. I don’t want to stop at being cleansed by your blood. I want to be nourished deeply and transformed as I receive your very life within me!”

Psalm 116:12-13,15-18; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15