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Holy Thursday

Thursday April 17, 2025

Mass Readings for Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

  • First Reading - Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14: The LORD commands Moses and Aaron to mark the new year and prepare for Passover. Each Israelite family is to select a flawless lamb, share as needed, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The lamb's blood will protect them from the impending plague, signifying the LORD's mercy as He strikes Egypt but spares His people, establishing an eternal commemoration.
  • Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 116: In response to God's boundless grace, I vow to honor Him, lifting the cup of salvation as a symbol of my commitment. Freed from my burdens, I dedicate my thanks and uphold my promises, embracing the covenant shared through Christ's sacrifice.
  • Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 : On the night of His betrayal, Jesus established the Eucharist. Breaking bread, He offered it as His body, and the cup as the new covenant in His blood, instructing us to commemorate His sacrifice in this act until He comes again.
  • Gospel - John 13:1-15: Before Passover, aware of his imminent departure, Jesus demonstrated his love by washing his disciples' feet, a task for servants. Peter initially resisted but accepted upon understanding its necessity for fellowship with Jesus. Jesus used this act to teach humility and service, emphasizing that followers should emulate his example of serving others.

I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.

John 13:15

Themes for Holy Thursday

On Holy Thursday, Catholics remember the last supper of Jesus Christ with his apostles. This marks the establishment of the sacrament of the Eucharist (Holy Communion). This day also commemorates the establishment of the priesthood. The washing of the feet reminds us how Jesus instructed us to love and serve one another.

Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday within the context of the Catholic liturgy, focuses on several profound themes that are intertwined with the events of the Last Supper, Jesus' final hours with His disciples before His crucifixion. Reflecting on the Mass readings for Holy Thursday, the following themes emerge:

  • The Institution of the Eucharist: The central theme of Holy Thursday is the establishment of the Eucharist, as recounted in the second reading from 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Jesus breaks bread and shares the cup, declaring them His body and blood, thereby instituting the sacrament of the Eucharist as a perpetual remembrance of His sacrifice.
  • Sacrifice and Salvation: The readings from Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 both highlight the theme of sacrifice leading to salvation. The Passover lamb's blood, which spared the Israelites from death, prefigures Christ's own sacrifice, whose blood saves humanity from sin.
  • Service and Humility: The Gospel from John 13:1-15 focuses on Jesus washing the feet of His disciples, an act of humility and service. This gesture not only prepares them for the sacred meal but also sets an example for how they are to love and serve one another.
  • Obedience to God's Will: Both the Passover preparation in Exodus and Jesus' actions during the Last Supper reflect deep obedience to God's will. This obedience is a model for the faithful, emphasizing submission to God's plan for salvation.
  • Community and Sharing: The readings also underscore the importance of community and sharing within the faith journey. The Israelites share the Passover lamb among families, and the Eucharist is celebrated as a communal act of faith, binding the community together in memory of Christ's sacrifice.
  • Remembrance and Continuity: The directive to remember and perpetuate the memory of these significant events is a key theme. The Israelites are to remember the Passover "as a festival to the LORD"; Christians are to remember Jesus' sacrifice through the Eucharist "until he comes."
  • New Covenant: The Last Supper marks the establishment of a new covenant, as signified by Jesus' blood. This new covenant fulfills and transcends the old, offering salvation and a new relationship with God through Jesus' sacrifice.
  • The Institution of the Priesthood: Holy Thursday also commemorates the institution of the priesthood by Jesus Christ.
  • The Agony in the Garden: After the Last Supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, where he experienced great anguish and agony. This event is also remembered at the end of and after Holy Thursday Mass.

These themes are not only central to the liturgy of Holy Thursday but also to the Christian faith as a whole, highlighting the depth of Jesus' love, the importance of community, and the call to live out a life of service and humility.

See the Homilies and Reflections section and the More Thoughts section for further expansion on these readings and some reflection questions for Holy Thursday.

Resources for Holy Thursday

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mass of the last supper
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Attend the Mass of the Lord’s Supper

The Mass of the Lord's Supper, celebrated on Holy Thursday, holds deep significance for Catholics as it commemorates the last supper of Jesus Christ with his disciples. This event marked the institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist, foundational elements of Catholic faith and worship. Although Holy Thursday is not a holy day of obligation, attending the Mass as a family can offer a profound spiritual experience, deeply connecting participants with the mysteries of Jesus' final hours, his sacrifice, and his enduring love for humanity. This observance invites Catholics to reflect on the gift of the Eucharist and the call to serve others in humility, embodying the lessons taught by Christ at his last supper.

Visit a Garden and Pray
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Visit a Garden and Pray

On Holy Thursday, after the Last Supper, Christ retreated to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, embodying a moment of profound surrender to the Father's will. This act of deep prayer and submission offers a powerful lesson for all, especially on Holy Thursday. As a meaningful activity, consider visiting a garden with your family, reminiscent of Gethsemane. This setting can provide a serene backdrop to teach children and teenagers the importance of prayer and emulate Jesus' example of trusting God completely. Reflecting on Jesus' prayers in the garden encourages a personal connection to his journey and invites a moment of contemplative prayer, embracing the spirit of surrender and faithfulness that marked that sacred night.

Lent and Triduum Cryptogram Puzzle
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Lent and Triduum Cryptogram Puzzle

Introducing a unique and engaging activity for Holy Thursday: a printable cryptogram designed to enrich the youth's understanding of Lent and the Triduum. This educational puzzle encrypts key vocabulary related to these solemn periods, challenging participants to decrypt each word using the provided definitions. It's a creative way to foster reflection and learning among young people, encouraging them to delve deeper into the significance of Holy Thursday and the days that follow. By contemplating each definition and uncovering the words, youth are invited to explore the depth of the Lenten season and the Triduum in a fun and interactive manner, enhancing their spiritual journey and knowledge of their faith.

Homilies and Reflections for Holy Thursday

Thursday April 17, 2025

Source and Summit

In his Holy Thursday homily, Bishop Robert Barron highlights the centrality of the Eucharist, describing it as the source and summit of the Christian life. He underscores Jesus' real, true, and substantial presence in the Eucharist, challenging the notion of it being merely symbolic. Drawing from John 6, Bishop Barron encourages reading this chapter to understand Jesus’ explicit teaching on eating His flesh and drinking His blood for eternal life. He explains the objectionable nature of this teaching to first-century Jews and emphasizes Jesus' divinity as the foundation of the Church's teaching on the Eucharist.

By partaking in the Eucharist, we are "eternalized" and prepared for eternal life, becoming deeply united with Christ and, consequently, with each other. This unity calls for service to one another, exemplified by the foot washing ceremony, embodying Christ’s command to love and serve.

A Meditation on Holy Thursday

In this reflection for Holy Thursday, Scott Hahn delves into the profound significance of the Eucharist, which Jesus instituted during the Last Supper. He contrasts his understanding of the event from his Protestant days, viewing it merely as a meal, to his deeper realization as a Catholic of its true essence as the beginning of Jesus' sacrificial offering.

Hahn emphasizes that Holy Thursday is more than a commemoration of a historical meal; it is the fulfillment of the Passover, with Christ as the true Lamb of God. This transformation makes the Eucharist not just a meal but a sacrificial communion, laying the foundation for Jesus' sacrifice on Good Friday. By instituting the Eucharist, Jesus transforms the Passover into a new covenant, making his crucifixion a holy sacrifice rather than a mere Roman execution. This profound insight into Holy Thursday underscores the Eucharist's pivotal role in Christian faith, connecting the Old Testament Passover with the New Covenant's sacrifice and inviting all to a deeper understanding and appreciation of these sacred mysteries.

Maundy Thursday: A Mandate, a Meal, and a Ministry

This Holy Thursday reflection invites us to imagine the apostles' perspective during the events of Holy Week, highlighting the transformation of Passover into the institution of the Eucharist and the new covenant. It emphasizes Jesus washing the apostles' feet, not just as an act of humility, but as the institution of a new priesthood, drawing parallels with Old Testament practices. This act, coupled with the new commandment to love one another and the establishment of the Eucharist, redefines the Passover as Christ's sacrifice, offering a new way of communion with God.

Holy Thursday commemorates these foundational moments, establishing the priesthood, commanding new forms of love and service, and inaugurating the new covenant through the Eucharist, inviting us to re-enter the Garden of Eden and not abandon our Lord, reflecting on our ability to love and sacrifice as He did.

More Thoughts for Holy Thursday

A Call to Mission

Through the Eucharist, Catholics believe that we are united with Christ in a profound way. We are reminded that Jesus is truly present with us in the bread and wine, and that we are called to receive this gift with reverence and awe.

The Eucharist is a source of strength and nourishment for our journey of faith. As we partake of the body and blood of Christ, we are strengthened to live out our vocation as disciples, to love and serve others as Jesus did.

At the same time, the Eucharist is a call to mission. As we receive this gift, we are reminded that we are called to share it with others, to be a witness to the presence of Christ in our world, and to work for justice and peace.

A Servant's Heart

Jesus came to be a revelation of God. He shows us the Father's heart, that God desires us all to live in peace and unity, and that everyone's needs are met. Jesus teaches us to have a servant's heart, to love and serve one another as he has loved and served us. He showed this by washing the feet of his disciples, a symbol of humility and service.

As we reflect on Jesus' example, we are called to follow his lead and live a life of service to others. We must have a servant's heart and do the work of actively loving each other through our actions. We must be willing to put the needs of others before our own and sacrifice ourselves for the good of others.

In the Eucharist, we see Jesus' ultimate act of love and service. He offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins, so that we might have eternal life. In this sacrament, we are called to remember his sacrifice and to share in his love and service to others.

Reflection Questions for Holy Thursday

  • How does the celebration of Holy Thursday and the Eucharist deepen your relationship with Christ?
  • In what ways does the Eucharist nourish and strengthen you for your journey of faith?
  • How can you share the gift of the Eucharist with others in your daily life?
  • What does it mean to you to receive the true and substantial presence of Christ in the bread and wine during Mass?
  • How does the Eucharist inspire you to work for justice and peace in the world?
  • How have you served others today? Take some time to reflect on your actions and see how you have put the needs of others before your own.
  • What prevents you from having a servant's heart? Are there any fears or insecurities that hold you back from serving others? Take some time to reflect on what may be preventing you from fully embracing a life of service.
  • How has Jesus washed your feet recently? In what ways has Jesus shown you love and service in your life? Take some time to reflect on the blessings and graces that you have received from God, and how they have impacted your life.
  • How can you better reflect God's love in the world? What can you do to actively love and serve others in your community? Take some time to reflect on how you can make a difference in the lives of those around you.

Quotes and Social Media Graphics for Holy Thursday

If you use the images below in any form, you must provide attribution to See details.

wash one anothers feet
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If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. - John 13:14-15
Holy Thursday
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Jesus washes feet - Holy Thursday

Music Suggestions for Holy Thursday

Thursday April 17, 2025

Holy Thursday marks a profound moment in the liturgical year, inviting reflection on themes of service, sacrifice, and communion through the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his disciples. The music chosen for this solemn occasion encompasses a rich tapestry of melodies and lyrics that guide the faithful in meditation and worship. These songs, ranging from traditional hymns to contemporary worship music, delve into the mysteries of Jesus' final hours before his crucifixion, his establishment of the Eucharist, and his example of servanthood. They also celebrate the unity and love found in the Christian community through the sacrament of communion, echoing Christ's call to remember and live out his teachings in our daily lives.

As we conclude the observance of Holy Thursday, the selected music has the power to leave a lasting imprint on our hearts and minds. Through melodies that recount the Last Supper and hymns that invite us into a deeper understanding of sacrifice and service, we are called to reflect on the profound love and mercy of Jesus Christ. These songs not only honor the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood but also remind us of our shared calling to live out the commandment of love in our own lives. May the themes of unity, sacrifice, and love resonate within us, inspiring us to embody the virtues of servanthood and communion in our walk with Christ.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Holy Thursday?

Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday, is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles and is the first day of the Easter Triduum, the period which marks the end of Lent and leads up to Easter. Holy Thursday initiates the commemoration of Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection.

What date is Holy Thursday?

The next date is Thursday April 17, 2025.

What are the Mass readings for Holy Thursday?

The Catholic Mass readings for Thursday April 17, 2025 are:
First Reading -  Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14: Instructions for the Passover Sacrifice and Remembering
Responsorial PsalmPsalm 116: A Prayer of Thanksgiving and Trust
Second Reading1 Corinthians 11:23-26: The Institution of the Eucharist
GospelJohn 13:1-15: The Humility and Service of Jesus

Why is it called Holy Thursday?

It is called Holy Thursday because it celebrates the holy events that took place on the eve of Jesus' crucifixion, including the institution of the Eucharist and the ceremony of washing the feet. These actions highlight the sanctity of Jesus' final hours with his disciples and his call to love and serve one another in humility.

Why is Holy Thursday also called Maundy Thursday?

Holy Thursday is also called Maundy Thursday due to the Latin word "mandatum," meaning "command" or "mandate," which refers to Jesus' commandment to His disciples at the Last Supper: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34). This day commemorates not only the institution of the Eucharist but also Jesus' act of washing the disciples' feet, an ultimate demonstration of humility and service. The name "Maundy Thursday" highlights the importance of this command to love and serve, embodying the essence of the lessons Jesus imparted on the eve of His Passion.

What happens on Holy Thursday in the Catholic Church?

On Holy Thursday, Catholics attend a special Mass in the evening, known as the Mass of the Lord's Supper. This Mass commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with his Apostles. Key rituals include the washing of feet, which symbolizes Jesus' service and love; the celebration of the Eucharist, marking its institution by Christ; and the procession of the Blessed Sacrament, which is then placed in an altar of repose for adoration. Holy Thursday Mass concludes with the stripping of the altar, symbolizing Jesus' abandonment and suffering.

What is the significance of the foot washing on Holy Thursday?

The foot washing ceremony on Holy Thursday signifies Jesus' humility and his command to serve others. By washing his disciples' feet, a task typically performed by servants, Jesus demonstrated the depth of his love and humility. This act serves as a powerful lesson for Christians to love and serve one another, following Jesus' example.

How does Holy Thursday relate to the Passover?

Holy Thursday relates to the Passover as it commemorates the Last Supper, which was a Passover meal Jesus shared with his disciples. Just as the Passover celebrates the Israelites' liberation from Egyptian slavery, Holy Thursday commemorates Jesus establishing the new covenant through his blood, offering spiritual liberation from sin. The themes of sacrifice, salvation, and deliverance are central to both observances, linking the Jewish tradition of Passover with the Christian celebration of Holy Thursday.

Can anyone participate in the foot washing ritual on Holy Thursday?

While traditions may vary by parish, the foot washing ritual on Holy Thursday is generally open to members of the congregation symbolizing the universal call to service and humility. Originally, this ritual was performed on selected individuals representing the Apostles, but many churches now include a broader representation of the community to emphasize inclusivity and the universal call to serve as Jesus taught.

Is Holy Thursday a Holy Day of Obligation?

Holy Thursday is not a holy day of obligation, but attending as a family can be a significant spiritual experience for Catholics so many attend Mass on this day.

Is Holy Thursday part of the Triduum?

Yes. The Easter Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday and concludes on the evening of Easter Sunday.

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One response to “Holy Thursday”

  1. Daniel Curtin Avatar
    Daniel Curtin

    Great explanation of the holy day

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