Tag Archives: Holy Thursday

Tenebrae

Tenebrae is an ancient Holy Week service celebrated on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Tenebrae, a latin word, means darkness, but the 15 lighted candles at the heart of this service say that darkness never has its way. The 15 candles stand for Jesus, his twelve disciples and the two disciples who leave Jerusalem for Emmaus after Jesus’ death, having lost all hope.

In the Tenebrae service, the candles are extinguished one by one, as the scriptures are read. His disciples leave him, one betrays him. Jesus goes to death alone, but his light remains burning.

Psalm 69 is read at Tenebrae on Holy Thursday:

“I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my mother’s sons,
because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.”

On Holy Thursday Jesus leaves Bethany with his disciples to celebrate the Passover feast in the evening in an upper room in Jerusalem near the temple. At the table he tells them their faith will be shaken and they will leave him.

The Tenebrae readings tell us  Jesus is our great high priest whose love never fails:

“We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”
(Hebrews 4, 14-16)

These days of Holy Week we approach “the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace for timely help.”

A final reading on Holy Thursday from an Easter homily by St. Melito of Sardis reminds us: “He is the one who brought us out of darkness into light, out of slavery into freedom, out of death into life, and made us a people chosen to be his own. He is the Passover which is our salvation.”

We celebrated Tenebrae this morning, Holy Thursday, at Immaculate Conception Monastery in Jamaica, New York.

Holy Thursday

Lent 1
Readings
“Love makes one little room an everywhere.” That’s what happened  when Jesus entered the supper room in Jerusalem the night before he died. A dark fate awaited him as powerful forces readied to take his life. His disciples, “his own who were in the world,” were arguing among themselves as they took their places at table. Jn 13,1-15

What would he do? Understandably, he might do nothing, disappointed  like the servant whom the prophet Isaiah described, “I toiled in vain; and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength…” (Is. 49).

Jesus, however, took bread and gave it to his disciples. “Take this,” he said, “this is my body.” He took the cup and gave it to them. “This is my blood, the blood of the new covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many.”

That night, without wariness or regret, he gave himself to his Father and to his disciples. As our Savior and Redeemer he gave himself unhesitatingly for the life of the world. In the supper room a love was tested and a love was displayed that reached everywhere.

Holy Thursday night. “Now is not the time to write, rather to weep. Jesus is dead to give us life. All creatures are mourning, the sun is darkened, the earth quakes, the rocks are rent, the veil of the temple is torn. Only my heart remains harder than flint. I will say no more. Join the poor mother of the dead Jesus as her companion. Ask the dear Magdalene and John where their hearts are. Let the sea of their pains flood within you. I end at the foot of the cross.” (St. Paul of the Cross,Letter 181)

How shall I make a return to the Lord
for the goodness he has shown to me.
The cup of salvation I will take up
and call on the name of the Lord. Ps 116

One Room, an Everywhere

“Love makes one little room an everywhere.”

That was so when Jesus entered the supper room in Jerusalem to eat with his disciples on the night before he died. A dark fate awaited him as powerful forces readied to take his life. His disciples, “his own who were in the world,” were arguing among themselves as they took their places at table. What would he do?

Understandably he might respond with disappointment, like the servant whom the prophet Isaiah described, “I toiled in vain; and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength” (Is 49).

Jesus, however, took bread and gave it to his disciples. “Take this,” he said, “this is my body.” He took the cup and gave it to them. “This is my blood, the blood of the new covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many.”

That night, without wariness or regret, he gave himself to his Father and to his disciples. As our Savior and Redeemer he gave himself unhesitatingly for the life of the world. In the supper room a love was tested and a love was displayed that reached everywhere.

Holy Thursday

When Jesus Christ entered the supper room to eat the Passover meal that last Thursday night, he was aware a dark fate awaited him. Powerful forces were drawn up against him ready to take his life. His enemies were moving to stop him.

Beside him were his disciples, “his own who were in the world.” Arguing among themselves as they took their place at table, they gave him little support. Not only did Jesus face their pettiness, he also sensed their impending betrayal of him.

What would he do? Understandably he might respond with caution and draw back. Like the servant, whom Isaiah described, he might well say, “I toiled in vain; and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength…” (Is. 49).

Jesus, however, took bread and gave it to his disciples. “Take this,” he said, “this is my body.” He took the cup and gave it to them. “This is my blood, the blood of the new covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many.”

That night, without wariness or regret, he gave himself in love to his Father and his disciples. As Savior and Redeemer he gave himself unhesitatingly for the life of the world.

We remember that love each time we celebrate the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the sacrament which makes a supper room of every time and place. Until the end of time, the sacrament says, Jesus Christ will offer his body and blood for all.


Lord Jesus,
once in the wilderness
your people ate heavenly manna
and they were filled.
And once in a desert place
you fed the hungry
with blessed bread.

A simple thing, we say,
costing our mighty God
litte effort.

But what if bread is
a body offered for all,
and a cup of wine
your own life-blood
given to those who hardly care?

A costly thing, we say,
Is there anything more
God could have done?
Anything more
Love could do
than lay down his life
for his friends?