Peter Murnane: Holy Thursday… Remembrance Day?

What we are doing here tonight is, basically, remembering. At every Mass we say: do this, in remembrance of me… as Luke and St Paul record Jesus as saying at his last meal with his friends, before he died.

Remembering these things is not just a passive thing: it is something very active. Here tonight, we are remembering one who loves us… who is still alive; is here, inviting us to love him.

Jesus, during his life, like any teacher, said: Make sure you remember this!

What are some of the things he wanted us to remember?

To his disciples, worrying about little things, he said: ‘Don’t you remember how I fed the crowd with a few loaves?’

Remember… servants are not greater than their master.’

‘If you are offering your gift to God, and you remember that you have offended.. do that most difficult thing: go and be reconciled. To make peace where there has been pain and injury.’

He tried to tell them many times that he would suffer and die, but they couldn’t take it in, then on the morning when he passed through death, angels at empty tomb reminded them: ‘Remember how he told you that he would do this…!’

At the end of Matthew’s gospel, saying goodbye, he told us: ‘Remember.. I am with you always, until the end of time.’

But tonight we come together to remember, to rejoice as we remember the strongest reminder of all: Jesus, here among us, says: ‘Do this, in remembrance of me… ‘

Being weak and frightened people, we tend to minimise, to limit, the awesome, frightening mystery that we are remembering. We don’t want even to hear our friend say that he is about to die a ghastly, horrible death. Like the disciples around him, we want to say: ‘Jesus, this mustn’t happen to you!’. We don’t let ourselves understand why he has to die…. Because he mixed with the wrong people… he went with, took sides with, those whom the world excludes, uses, exploits, and destroys.

He identifies with them, calls them his sisters and brothers, and so he was rejected as they are rejected; killed as they are killed. But he takes them with him through death, in his victory.If we with to celebrate Eucharist with him, we are compelled to see them, be for themhelpand serve them, as we saw Jesus washing their feet… as a slave washes feet.

Our faith in Jesus means nothing, if it does not take solid form – is not incarnate – in the world… If we don’t remember, and embrace, the most forsaken people around us tonight. Let Jesus tell us about some of them:

‘I clothed myself in flesh and was vulnerable as I came into the plundered world that I had created, to absorb the fear and hate of thousands of years.

‘I am the street people in Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, London, Rio.

‘I am the people of Yemen, tonight, starving bodies sick with cholera as missiles rain down.

‘I am a million people in Gaza, isolated and cut off, crying for freedom.

‘I am Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, pockmarked by bomb blasts, where orphaned children hide lest death come from clear blue skies.

‘I am the nameless political prisoners in the gaols and camps of oppressive regimes.

‘I am the Rohinga Muslims, their homes destroyed, fleeing for their lives.

‘I am the adult and child refugees unjustly imprisoned by the Australian government.

‘I am the growling of millions of empty bellies, while billions of dollars pour into the bottomless coffers of the arms manufacturers and war machines.

‘I am generation upon generation of silenced victims, trampled by those who have power over them.

‘I am the slain, from the foundation of the world.

‘I took the leper into my arms. I opened the eyes of the blind. I fed the starving with bread and wisdom.

‘I took the children in my arms.

‘The used and the exploited looked into my eyes and saw their own dignity reflected back to them.

‘As I walked the land, I shared the unlimited Love in which I was born before time began.

‘So now, my friends, as we gather around this table, while you quarrel about who among you is the greatest.

‘For one evening, let us put aside the bickering, the bitterness, and enjoy one last feast, in fellowship.

‘If you want to be great, cast off the shackles of self-doubt that stop you from loving each other.

‘If you want glory, show it in acts of service.

‘I come among you, stooping down to wash your feet, to show you love you’ve never known.

‘You will never know how beloved you are, until you let the love within you pour out to others.

‘I am this broken and bleeding world, which needs your love to be made whole.

‘This bread is my broken body, this cup is my spilled blood.

‘As it has been done to victims from the beginning of time, so it is done to me. Embrace the outcasts, reconcile enemies, feed my sheep.

‘I give my broken self to you. Receive me, let me nourish you with my love, until compassion bursts the old wineskins of your hearts… and you become a new creation.

‘I live in you: become one in me. Let this bread hold you together, this wine unite you, washing away your divisions. Take me into you and become my body.

‘Eat this bread. Drink this wine. Do this in remembrance of me.’


Shared from the blog of Peter Murnane –

I thank Lindsay Paris-Lopez at for some of the words of this homily.