Erika Barron
Advertising Account Executive
April 12, 2023 // Bishop

The Sacred Paschal Triduum Begins

Erika Barron
Advertising Account Executive

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne was filled with the faithful in celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, April 6.

During his homily, Bishop Rhoades shared, “This Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins the Sacred Paschal Triduum, three days in which we celebrate the greatest mysteries of our redemption. In the liturgies of the Paschal Triduum, we celebrate the memorial of Our Lord crucified, buried, and risen. Tonight, we recall the Last Supper in which, on the night He was betrayed, Jesus instituted the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood. We also recall Our Lord’s commandment of love and His own humble love and service in washing the feet of the twelve apostles, reminding us that Jesus came (as He said) ‘not to be served, but to serve.’”

Bishop Rhoades then reminded those gathered that the word pascal means passage or Passover. “Jesus’ Passover from death to life was foreshadowed by the Old Testament Passover,” he said.

Photos by Joshua Schipper Bishop Rhoades washes the feet of 12 parishioners as part of Holy Thursday Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on April 6.

He recalled the first reading for the night from Exodus where God told Moses and Aaron to instruct the entire community to procure a year-old spotless male lamb, not a bone of the lamb to be broken, slaughter it, and wipe the blood on two doorposts and tops of doorways of their homes.

Bishop Rhoades continued, “Then at meal that same night, they were to eat the roasted lamb, along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. God told Moses and Aaron that the people were to eat the meal ready to depart from Egypt. He said: ‘It is the Passover of the Lord’ because that night when the first born would be struck down, He would pass over the houses marked with the blood of the lambs.” He went on to talk about how that same night after the last of the ten plagues occurred, Pharoah let God’s people go and that began the Exodus.

“When the Jewish people celebrated Passover, they remembered the past, that night in Egypt when the Exodus began, but they also looked to the future — they looked forward with hope that God would one day give them definitive and lasting freedom. And that was Jesus’ mission and purpose from the Father: to bring that freedom. Jesus, the Son of God, was sent by the Father to set us free, to liberate us from the slavery of sin, and to deliver us from the power of death.”

He continued, “Jesus approached the Passover feast with the awareness that He Himself was the Passover lamb foreshadowed in the book of Exodus as a lamb that would be sacrificed. He went into Jerusalem at Passover time to institute a new Passover and establish a new covenant between God and His people. At the Last Supper, He gave a new meaning to the blessing of the Passover bread and cup.”

Later in his homily, Bishop Rhoades said, “Jesus inaugurated the new Passover Holy Thursday night with the prescribed unleavened bread and the wine, but there’s no mention of a lamb. Looking at the details of the Jewish Passover, we see very clearly that Jesus Himself was the lamb at the Last Supper, the new Passover Lamb. This was foretold by John the Baptist at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.”

More photos from Holy Thursday at the cathedral.

The bishop then asked people to, “Remember when John saw Jesus approach him at the Jordan River, he exclaimed: ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.’ Like the Passover lamb, Jesus was without blemish. He was without sin. Like the Passover lamb, none of His bones were broken at the crucifixion. Like the Passover lamb, Jesus was sacrificed. Like the Passover lamb whose blood was poured out on the wood of the houses, Jesus’ blood was poured out on the wood of the cross. Like God instructed the people to eat flesh of the Passover lamb, Jesus instructed the apostles to eat His flesh when He took the bread, broke it, gave it to them and said, ‘Take and eat. This is my body which is given up for you.’”

On this Holy Night, Jesus also washed the feet of his disciples, the traditional task of a servant of the house.

Bishop explained, “By this action, Jesus was displaying in anticipation what would happen the next day on the cross: the cleansing from sin and the incorporation of the disciples into His divine life. That’s why when Peter objected to Jesus washing his feet, Our Lord told him: ‘Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.’ The washing of the feet is also an allusion to Baptism which communicates to us the forgiveness of sin and incorporation into the divine life. Jesus’ washing of the feet of the disciples was a prophetic action, an anticipatory gesture that displayed His saving work on the cross. He offers us salvation as a gift, a gift that we are called to say ‘yes’ to, as Peter eventually did.”

He added that, by Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, he also set an example for the priesthood and for us all. “Since the foot washing signifies the cross, Jesus commands the disciples to practice the same kind of self-emptying humility and love that He will show them on the cross. Later, in His farewell discourse at the Last Supper, Jesus said to His disciples: ‘I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples.’”

After his homily, while the choir echoed those very words of Christ, the bishop knelt and washed the feet of 12 members of the community.

Before the washing of the feet, Bishop Rhoades ended his homily with these words, “I pray that our hearts may be touched anew by the love and humility of Jesus as we enter into the mystery of His passion, death, and resurrection during this sacred Triduum. May the Lord Jesus, who loved us to the end, who gave us the sacrament of His love in the Eucharist, strengthen us to love one another as He has loved us, so that one day we will share in His banquet of love with the saints for all eternity!”

May in this Holy season of Easter, the people of Christ show each other the same love and humility that He poured out for all. 

Following Mass, Bishop Rhoades processes with the Blessed Sacrament to place at the Altar of Repose at St. Mother Theodore Guérin Chapel.

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