Sandakan : Holy Thursday is the day that Christ celebrated the last supper with his disciples, four days after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Judas would betray him setting the stage for his crucifixion on Good Friday. The feast is the commemoration of the the institution of the three pillars of the Catholic faith, the Sacrament of Holy Communion, the priesthood and the Mass.
Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Supper yesterday evening, 21st April 2011 at St Mary's Cathedral with a congregation of more than 1,500 people. The same mass was also celebrated simultaneously at St Joseph's Church in Chinese and St Mark's Church in Bahasa Malaysia by visiting priests, Fr Thomas Chong SJ and Fr Erik Jerome respectively.
The prelate in his homily said, 'God is love. The whole being of God is identical to love. The nature of God is love. Without love God simply doesn't exist. It is through Jesus that God communicates to us His love.'
He called on the people not to lead an individualistic life which is never the way of the Lord. It is not merely me and God only. We need to help one another, raise each other up and grow together as a community of love and unity.
He reminded the people that through the Eucharist we form a single body of Christ and Church with those who share his body and blood. We are bonded as brothers and sisters in selfless service to each other.
He asked the people to keep in mind the wonderful lesson of washing others' feet which symbolizes our serving others with humility and without imposing our own conditions. Jesus tells us to emulate His actions in the simple ceremony : 'For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.' (John 13 : 15)
He said those who would follow Jesus must reflect on ; Will we dedicate ourselves to Jesus' way of selfless and humble service toward others, or will we go the way of the world, demanding and taking and serving ourselves? Christ's example of washing His disciples' feet is a reminder of that fundamental choice.
He concluded, 'We pray that all of us will be renewed and incline to serve one another with God's love.'
Immediately after the homily, the prelate proceeded to wash the feet of 12 people selected among the congregation accompanied by the hymn on 'A New Commandment' sung solemnly. The opening lyric 'A new commandment I give unto you. That you love one another as I have loved you' are the words spoken by our Lord to His disciples at the Last Supper, after he completed the washing of the feet. The symbolic act is a call to all of us to emulate Christ's humility in serving others.
After Holy Communion, the Eucharist is transferred from the altar to the tabernacle in solemn procession with the congregation singing 'O Sacrament Most Holy' and 'Down in Adoration.' After which, there was adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by the various groups till midnight.