Holy Thursday

Thursday March 28, 2024

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

The readings for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper are the same for years A, B, and C:

  • First Reading: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14: The institution of the Passover, a commemorative festival to be observed by the Israelites to remember how God saved them from slavery in Egypt. The passage outlines the instructions for choosing and preparing a sacrificial lamb, marking the doorposts of their homes with its blood, and eating unleavened bread with bitter herbs on the night of the Passover.
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 116: A reflection of gratitude for the blessings and deliverance received from the Lord. The prayer expresses a desire to make a return to the Lord by taking up the cup of salvation and offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving, acknowledging that the blessing-cup represents a communion with the Blood of Christ.
  • Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 : Paul’s account of the Last Supper, in which Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples and instructed them to continue doing so in remembrance of him. Paul emphasizes the importance of participating in the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner, recognizing the significance of Christ’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.
  • Gospel: John 13:1-15: Jesus washes his disciples’ feet as an act of humility and service, and as an example for them to follow. Despite their initial resistance, Jesus explains that they must serve one another in the same way, and that true greatness comes from serving others.

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.

  • The Eucharist: Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his disciples. The Eucharist, which is the central sacrament of the Catholic Church, was instituted during the Last Supper.
  • Service to Others: During the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as a gesture of humility and service. This act is also commemorated during the Holy Thursday Mass.
  • 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.

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

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Resources and Ideas for Holy Thursday

Attend the Mass of the Lord’s Supper

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper commemorates the last supper of Jesus Christ with his disciples, when the institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist took place.  Holy Thursday is not a holy day of obligation, but attending as a family can be a significant spiritual experience for Catholics.

Visit a Garden and Pray

Christ went to pray at the Garden of Gethsemane. It is a prayer of total surrender to the Father’s will.  So as a Lenten activity, go to a garden and think about the Garden of Gethsemane. Take your children and teenagers and teach them to pray as Jesus did.

Lent and Triduum Cryptogram Puzzle

This printable cryptogram is a fun way to introduce youth to the vocabulary for Lent and Triduum. Each word is encrypted and definitions are given. Youth must consider the definition and then decrypt the word.

Homilies and Reflections

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

Let’s take a deeper look at what we celebrate on Holy (or “Maundy”) Thursday. The liturgical celebration of Holy Thursday combines several events: Jesus washing the apostles’ feet, the institution of the Eucharist, the issuing of the new commandment, and his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Gift of the Eucharist

Bishop Robert Barron explains that the Church comes from the Eucharist for it is the sacrifice that makes saints. The Eucharist is essentially the fullest act of gratitude prefigured in Melchizedek finding its fulfillment in the sacrifice of Christ.

Scott Hahn reflects that the readings for the Holy Thursday Mass focus on the continuity between the ancient Jewish Passover and the institution of the Eucharist. As the Passover was the meal that marked the transition from slavery to Egypt to the freedom of the Exodus, so the Eucharist is the meal that marks the transition from slavery to sin to the glorious freedom of the children of God.

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

  • 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 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

Frequently Asked Questions


One response to “Holy Thursday”

  1. Daniel Curtin Avatar
    Daniel Curtin

    Great explanation of the holy day

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