Commemorated on Holy Thursday
Epistle: I Corinthians 11:2332
Gospel: Luke 22:139
Filling Your cup of salvation with joy, O loving Lord, You made Your disciples drink from it. For You offered Yourself in sacrifice, crying: "Drink My Blood, and you shall be firmly established in the faith."
Let us all draw near in fear to the mystical table, and with pure souls let us receive the Bread; let us remain at the Master's side, that we may see how He washes the feet of the disciples and wipes them with a towel; and let us do as we have seen, subjecting ourselves to each other and washing one another's feet. For such is the commandment that Christ Himself gave to His disciples; but Judas, slave and deceiver, paid no heed.
The vigil on the eve of Holy Thursday is dedicated exclusively to the Passover Supper which Christ celebrated with his twelve apostles. The main theme of the day is the meal itself at which Christ commanded that the Passover of the New Covenant is to be eaten in remembrance of himself, of his body broken and his blood shed for the remission of sins. In addition, the betrayal of Judas and Christ's washing of the disciples' feet are also central to the liturgical commemoration of the day. In cathedral churches, it is the custom for the bishop to re-enact the foot-washing in a special ceremony following the Divine Liturgy.
The liturgical celebration of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday is not merely the annual remembrance of the "institution" of the sacrament of Holy Communion. Indeed the very event of the Passover meal itself was not merely the last-minute action by the Lord to "institute" the central sacrament of the Christian Faith before his passion and death. On the contrary, the entire mission of Christ, and indeed the very purpose for the creation of the world in the first place, is so that God's beloved creature, made in his own divine image and likeness, could be in the most intimate communion with him for eternity, sitting at the table with him, eating and drinking in his unending kingdom.
In a real sense, therefore, it is true to say that the "body broken" and the "blood spilled" spoken of by Christ at his last supper with the disciples was not merely an anticipation and preview of what was yet to come; but that what was yet to come - the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven - came to pass precisely so that men could be blessed by God to be in "holy communion" with him forever, eating and drinking at the mystical table of his kingdom of which there will be no end.
From The Orthodox Faith, Vol. II: Worship, by Fr. Thomas Hopko.
|Since this Liturgy is usually celebrated Thursday morning, many are at work or at school. Those who are able need to be there to represent those who cannot, whether they be other family members or parishioners in general.|
|Use the hymns of the day for mealtime prayers, and as a focal point for reviewing the significance of this day.|
|Use the following to help your children identify the individuals in the icon.|
Christ is the central figure. Saint John the Beloved [Evangelist, Theologian] is seated at Christ's right; as the youngest of the disciples he is depicted as beardless. Judas Iscariot the Betrayer is the third figure from Christ's left; he is depicted dipping into the dish (Matthew 26:20-25). Saint John the Beloved receives in his left hand a piece of the Body of Christ; another morsel is on the table before Christ. The chalice containing the Precious Blood of Christ is in His Left hand.
Taken from The Icon Book, by Boojamra, Essey, McLuckie & Matusiak.
Troparion (Tone 8)
When the glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of their feet before the supper, the impious Judas was darkened by the disease of avarice, and to the lawless judges he betrayed You, the Righteous Judge. Behold, this man because of avarice hanged himself. Flee from the insatiable desire which dared such things against the Master! O Lord Who deals righteously with all, glory to You!
Instead of the Hymn to the Theotokos...
Come, O faithful! Let us enjoy the Master's hospitality: the Banquet of Immortality! In the upper chamber with uplifted minds, let us receive the exalted words of the Word, Whom we magnify!
© 1998 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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