Reflection from Fr. James Barber
Maundy Thursday is always a deeply moving day as we celebrate the moment Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist as something bound to the sacrifice he would make on the Cross, and we follow Jesus into Garden of Gethsamane as he invites us to stay with him a while, since he is sorrowful to the point of death.
We feel the separation from the Mass most keenly on a day like this, when the emphasis is so explicitly on gathering with Jesus, and receiving from him the Most Blessed Sacrament. But while we might not be able to be physically united to him in the Eucharist, we are spiritually united to him through his Death and Resurrection we begin to celebrate from today. In many ways, the three days of the Easter Triduum are the mystery of the Mass, the mystery of why we came to church every Sunday in the first place, laid out over three whole days rather than the usual hour.
Maundy Thursday, then, emphasises us being gathered together around him. We are not simply a collection of like-minded people with beliefs about a supreme being, we have been called and gathered by Jesus Christ who has saved us through his Death and Resurrection. Though we cannot gather today, we can nevertheless gather around him as, through prayer, we follow Jesus into the Garden and stay with him. On this night, try to find some time and space to spend in watchful prayer with Jesus. Recognise that the fear he expressed in his pained prayer is prayer for you, and your being with him is akin to being with a friend as they undergo terrible pain and loss. Let tonight and this whole experience, be a reminder that, underneath all the heaped reasons we have for being Catholics, under our personal struggles and needs, the personal relationship we have with Jesus Christ is what forms the foundation for our lives. Let that be the reason for spending some time with him in prayer on this night.