Strength to serve — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

HOLY THURSDAY
OF THE LORD’S PASSION
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
9 April 2020


Dear brothers and sisters:

The Gospel that we’ve heard today (Jn 13:1-15) reminds us of Jesus’ love for his own: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1).  Moved by this love, Jesus wanted to have a special dinner together with his disciples, with those to whom he had said: “I no longer call you servants, but friends” (Jn 15:15). Jesus didn’t want to leave without opening his heart to his friends, without showing them his desire to stay with them and promising them that one day he’d be with them forever.

Lavement des pieds” from the Fonds Paris rare photo collection at the University of Bordeaux Montaigne (Public domain)

Jesus chose a simple sign that would epitomize and express his love for his disciples and his desire to live united with them forever. He took a piece of bread, broke it and shared it with his friends, saying: this is my body, that is to say, this is me, eat it, and every time you break it and share it you’ll remember me and I’ll be there with you

Love is like this. Whoever loves doesn’t abandon the other person they love —Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Friends never say goodbye. For friends, no place is far away. Jesus loves us as a friend and doesn’t want us to forget him or feel that we are without his presence.

In these dramatic days that we’re experiencing because of the pandemic, Jesus’ presence and love strengthen and comfort us.  Jesus knows that without him we can do nothing (Jn 15:5). The Eucharist assures us that he’s always with us and that he doesn’t abandon us.

The Last Supper, French engraving ca. 1490–1510 (detail) | BnF Gallica / Bibliothèque nationale de France (Public domain)

Without the Eucharist we wouldn’t be able to sustain ourselves in weakness and we couldn’t get up after we fall, we wouldn’t be able to be healed, we wouldn’t be able to hope, we’d have nothing to say to the world, and we couldn’t collaborate in building a better humanity.

Without the Eucharist we’d have nothing to say to the world, and we couldn’t collaborate in building a better humanity. —Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

The Church, continually strengthened by and born from the Eucharist, will become a decisive factor in humanity’s future spiritual reconstruction after the terrible crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  Fed by the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist we’ll have the strength to bear witness to a new lifestyle that will be more humane, becoming better neighbors with more commonsense, creating new social bonds that will help humanity to become different, even better.

At the Last Supper, Jesus not only left his body and blood in the Eucharist to the Church but, by washing his disciples’ feet, he taught us the way of love and service that springs from communion with him: “Love one another, as I have loved you” (cf. Jn 13:34). 

Communion with Jesus creates new social bonds based on service to others, loving them, bending down to meet their needs. —Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

The experience of the pandemic has taught us that sacrifice, solidarity and service to one another is a necessary condition for survival. No one lives and survives alone

We must learn to bend down like Jesus who, acting as a servant, washes the feet of the disciples and invites us to do the same. Washing each other’s feet means overcoming indifference and selfishness; it means giving up the privileges that exclude many, privileges which provoke exclusion, pain, and death.

Dear brothers and sisters, during these holy days, let’s let Jesus look at us—and with the force of his love, let’s move from loneliness and death to communion and life.

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