Holy Thursday is the 5th day of the Holy Week. It is as solemn as all other days of the Holy Week but has significant exceptions. It ushers in the Easter Triduum which means three (3) great days to Easter.
On the celebration of the Holy Thursday, key ordinances and instructions from Jesus are re-enacted and commemorated.
This day is strikingly remarkable because of the Lord’s last Supper with HIS apostles. Very reverential in Christianity today, is the fact that Jesus replaces the historical blood of animals during Passover with HIS own blood.
It was on this day also, that Jesus commissioned priesthood in the New Testament.
Let’s take a look at these Holy Thursday quick facts:
1. The Last Supper
This is a day where we see one of the many gestures of undiluted love for HIS church. Jesus hinted the chosen twelve that it was time to lay down his life.
Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you” – Luke 14: 19-20
Catholics know it as the institution of the Holy Eucharist. This is where the tradition of priesthood and the Holy Communion in our churches take its root. They were instituted by Jesus HIMSELF. Catholic Priests jointly celebrate their anniversary every Holy Thursday.
In obedience to God, the church believes like the early fathers, that through a process of “transubstantiation” the simple bread we see becomes HIS real body. The wine likewise becomes the real blood of Jesus.
He said, “This is my body”, “This is my blood”, “DO THIS in memory of me”. Hence what we believe and do.
2. Washing of Feet
The washing of the feet of the apostles also occurred on this day. This is the reason why it is also known as the Maundy Thursday. “Maundy” is a Latin word meaning “command”. If we remember, after the last supper and washing of their feet, Jesus charged them to love one another.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34–35
By stooping to wash their feet, Jesus gave them a practical meaning to their call to be priests and leaders of HIS church. He taught them humility and the place of selfless service if they must succeed in these roles.
3. Jesus Predicts HIS Betrayal
When Jesus said one of the twelve would betray Him, he specifically referred to Judas. But in Matthew 26:31-35. Jesus extends the betrayal to Peter, the rock of HIS church, and all of the apostles.
Jesus knew their fearful hearts but never loved them any less. HE was aware it had to be that way, so that God’s will for mankind would come to pass.
Later that day at Gethsemane, Judas shows up with the Roman soldiers. He point Jesus to the Romans, betraying HIM with a kiss.
4. Prayer And Arrest In Gethsemane
After the supper and the washing of feet, Jesus took his disciples to pray at the garden of Gethsemane. This is where we see the human nature of Jesus most evident.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”– Luke 22:42
Just like the disciples were expected to watch and pray with Jesus, Catholics would be spending an extra hour after the Holy Thursday celebration, praying to God.