The Passover Lamb Must Be Eaten

(Homily for Holy Thursday)

Bottom line: The Passover sacrifice is not complete until the people have eaten the lamb. Jesus is our Passover - and the Mass is the Lamb's Supper.

Tonight we begin the great Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. The culmination of our Triduum will be the reception of new members through the Easter Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

Every new member, every convert brings a blessing, but tonight I would like to tell you about one in particular. Her name is Rosalind Moss and she was brought up in a practicing Jewish household. With great emotion she tells about how each year her family celebrated the Passover - remembering how God saved them from the terrible oppression of Egypt and brought them through the desert to the Promised Land. She describes the preparation of the Passover meal, especially the lamb. When you listen to Rosalind Moss, you realize that the rituals outlined in tonight's first reading continue to this day in Jewish households.

As an adult Rosalind Moss made a dramatic discovery. She was reading of how the Hebrew people would receive forgiveness for their sins. Each year, they would place their hands on a lamb, in order to symbolically transmit their sins to the animal. After reading all the Old Testament passages about the lamb of sacrifice, she read just one verse from the New Testament, the verse where John the Baptist points to Jesus and says, "Behold the Lamb of God." After much prayer and study, she accepted Jesus as the true Passover Lamb.

For eighteen years Rosalind Moss followed Jesus as a fervent evangelical Christian. She was, however, to make a further, deeper conversion when she listened to a man named Scott Hahn. Dr. Scott Hahn was a Protestant minister who converted to Catholic faith. In one of his talks, he pointed out something that people studying the Bible sometimes overlook. "The Passover sacrifice," he said, "is not complete until the people have eaten the lamb."

"But, of course," thought Rosalind, "the Passover Lamb must be eaten." That insight led her to investigate the claims of Catholic Church about the Eucharist: that it is a sacred banquet in which we receive the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. By God's grace she had a burning desire to receive the Eucharist. She did in 1995 at the Easter Vigil, when she made her profession of faith as a Catholic.

When I hear the inspiring story of Rosalind Moss and other converts, it makes me ask how much we Catholics sometimes take for granted the great gift we have received in the Eucharist. Tonight as we celebrate this Mass of the Last Supper, it is a good moment to renew our gratitude for such a great gift. What an awesome privilege to be invited to consume the Passover Lamb! The Mass is the Lamb's Supper. At the conclusion of the Mass, we will have a procession with Blessed Sacrament. Then our Eucharistic Lord will be placed on the side altar. It seems astonishing that the God who made the entire cosmos, should present himself to us in the humble form of bread. Perhaps that is why Jesus at the Last Supper, Jesus performed the humble act of washing feet - to prepare them for the even greater humility of him becoming the Passover Lamb. May his humility inspire us with a greater devotion and love for him! As we say in the beautiful Pange Lingua hymn:

Sing, my tongue, the Savior's glory,
Of his flesh the mystery sing;
Of his blood all price exceeding,
Shed by our immortal king!

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Spanish Version

From Archives:

2010 Homily: Foot Washing & Celibacy
2009: Join the Nearest Household
2008: Grandma, Can I Wash Your Feet?
2007: The Passover Lamb Must Be Eaten
2006: A New Friend at the Banquet
2005: Our True Companion
2004: A Girl's Heroic Holy Hour
2003: Do This!
2002: Humiliation of Priesthood
2001: Super-Abundance of Mercy
2000: Washing of Feet & Eucharist
1999: Family Struggles & Strengths
1998: In Remembrance of Me

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Bulletin (Holy Week Subtext: Jewish-Christian Relations)

St. Mary of the Valley Album

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