Holy and Great Thursday

When the glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of the feet during the Last Supper, the wicked Judas, overcome with greed, was darkened, and he betrayed You, the righteous Judge, to the lawless judges. O soul, beware of such greed that leads to such a fate; turn away from Judas’ love of money, who dared to do such things to his Teacher. O Lord, who are good to all, glory to You!

(Troparion of Great Thursday)

The Creator of Heaven and Earth, of all things visible and invisible, the eternal, timeless, and incomprehensible One; the Immortal, ever-living Almighty, God the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, today establishes on Earth His loving, mutual self-giving with mankind, the new and eternal Covenant of love.

Today, the mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven is fulfilled – God unites with man, and man communes with God. Today, before His Passion, Christ establishes the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy, which is performed to this day and will be fulfilled in the life to come.

According to God’s plan for the salvation of mankind, the Son of God, who was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man, our true Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, today spends His last hours on Earth, preparing His disciples for His saving Passion and death, but also for the Resurrection. Today, after gathering His disciples, He removes His outer garment, girds Himself for service, kneels, and washes their feet, our humble Lord and God, leaving an example of what it means to be first. Then, sitting at the table, He takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to His disciples, saying: “Take, eat; this is My Body, which is broken for you, for the forgiveness of sins,” and after supper with the cup: “Drink of it, all of you; this is My Blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

On this occasion, the son of perdition, the betrayer Judas, is also revealed. After partaking of Communion, he leaves and hastens to summon the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees to capture the Lord. And Christ, knowing all that would happen, takes His disciples to Gethsemane and, moving away a bit, begins to pray to the Father with deep sighs and sweat like drops of blood, due to the impending sufferings. After a while, the hour comes when the Savior receives a kiss, a false greeting from His disciple Judas Iscariot, a prearranged sign with the scribes and Pharisees to capture and lead Him to trial.

The church and the liturgical service are the center of these sacred and moving events. Therefore, with piety, devotion, and humility, we attend and live through the events of the Last Supper at the Lord’s table, at the feet of our humble Lord and Savior, becoming witnesses of Divine love but also of human frailty. After today’s Holy and Divine Basil Liturgy, officiated by our Elder Bishop Partenij, the rite of Anointing was also performed, a Holy Sacrament through which we receive bodily and spiritual health by the anointing with consecrated oil.

The countenance of our beloved Elder, Bishop Partenij, deeply immersed in the events taking place and moved by the Divine love for mankind, radiated with the quiet light of Holy Glory, imparting to us the grace of communion with Christ.

“You, who willingly give me Your body as food, are fire and burn the unworthy. Do not consume me, my Creator, but enter into all my members. Burn the thorns of my sins, cleanse my soul and thoughts. Nail me entirely to Your fear, cover me, guard, and keep me from every soul-destroying deed and word. Cleanse me, wash me, and order me aright. Adorn me, give me understanding and enlightenment. Show me as a dwelling solely of the Spirit, that no longer may I be a habitation of sin, so that as Your temple, through Holy Communion, evil and passion may flee from me like fire.”

Glory to You, O Christ, for Your ineffable mercy!