My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I could not imagine this would happen. Holy Thursday, without the Washing of the Feet; Holy Thursday, without Church visits; Holy Thursday, Mass without people in the Church; and later tonight, Holy Thursday, with no one going to Church for confession even if we priests sit at the confessional. On Holy Thursday, Catholics are at home. Has this happened before? The fact is, my dear brothers and sisters, I learned that I am shallow when I asked, “Has this been done before? Has this happened before?” The answer is yes. It has happened before.
This happened during the first Passover. We are so familiar listening to the First Reading. But what did God tell Moses and Aaron? Tell the Israelites, go inside your homes and wipe the sacrificial lamb’s blood on doors and when the Angel of Death passes, and you are inside your home with blood on your door, I will save you!
In the first Passover, the Lord told the Israelites, “Stay home”. They were not able to worship together and they did not have a priest in their homes. But the Lord said, “Just stay inside, stay inside your home, and place blood on your door.” What did He say? I will take care of you. That is what the Lord is telling us. We cannot dress the images of saints, we cannot have the Washing of the Feet, and we cannot hold a procession in Manaoag.
We do all these on Holy Thursday.
The Lord now tells us, “Have faith!” However, in the previous period, where was our faith? We had faith in our Faith! We trusted in our Trust! We have trust, we have faith in what we have to do. The Lord now tells us, “It is not your faith in your Faith that will save you, it is your faith in Me that will save you.”
The Lord is now telling us, “You don’t have to do anything. Leave it to me. If you take care of it, you will die! If I take care of it, I will save you. I will save you not because you hide very well, but because I will hide you. You will be saved not because you are healthy and strong; you will be saved because I am your health, I am your strength! You will be saved inside your house because I will save you. You will not save yourself on your own.”
Where is your faith? Today, the Lord cleanses us. Our faith perhaps might be faith in ourselves. Now we cannot show our preference in faith. The Lord says to us, “Now I can be your God. I’ll take care of you. Stay home. When death comes, I will hide you. You will not hide yourself.”
Has this happened? Yes, it has happened. And the Lord wants this to happen on Holy Thursday 2020. Holy Thursday’s Washing of the Feet will not be held. Members of the community, representing the apostles, are not present. But what really happened on Holy Thursday? What truly happened on Holy Thursday before the Washing of the Feet? First, He took off his outer clothing. Second, He tied a towel around his waist. And third, He knelt before the apostles.
Because we are so focused on the Washing of the Feet, we did not notice the three acts that are important because the removal of outer garment symbolizes His emptying of self. He emptied Himself and took the form of a slave! Tying a towel around His waist is a sign that He embraces his personhood—that He did not come down gloriously from heaven.
He embraced all our pains and burdens. He tied all our problems around his waist. He tied all that we are going through around his body and then knelt. He knelt. Why is that so important? Because the Creator knelt before His creation. The Creator God kneels before His creature! When you kneel before a person, you can be kicked! You can be hit! You are defenseless because you are kneeling down. And that is what the Lord did. He emptied Himself, embraced humanity, and knelt before His creature.
So what does this remind us of today? That Holy Thursday is not about what man has done for God. Holy Thursday is about what the Lord has done for man. On this day, Holy Thursday, we are being invited not to do things for God, rather we are being invited to allow God to do His love for us. Evangelization is not telling people what to do. Evangelization is telling people what God has done for us!
And now that we cannot hold the Alay Lakad, we cannot go to Church, we cannot do what our ancestors did, the Lord will tell us now, “Now that you don’t have anything to do, maybe you have time to meditate and understand what I did for you. You are so busy wanting to do things for Me, and you do not truly understand what I am doing for you. You immediately proceeded to the Washing of the Feet. You forgot what I did before the Washing of the Feet. You became so concerned about doing things for Me but I don’t need that. I only need you to understand what I have done for you.”
Even if you spend your whole life trying to understand what Jesus has done for you, you will still not be able to understand it. That is how much God loves humanity. Holy Thursday is not about activities for God. Holy Thursday is about God’s love for all of us, and we cannot fully understand these if we persist in wishing, “I will do things for the Lord.” It is not what we have to do, it is rather what God has done for you.
What was St. Paul’s message? He has only one, remember. Let’s delve on this word: Remember. Do we see memory? No, because memory is an internal function. It is our inner self that remembers. Remember the words, “This is My body, this is My blood.” Just keep on remembering not just with your head, but with your heart; not just with your heart, but with your total self. Just remember. You don’t have to do anything. This quarantine invites us to just sit down just as the apostles did. Just sit down, you don’t have to do anything. Inside closed doors, I will love you.
This Holy Thursday, amid quarantine, makes it a unique Holy Thursday that God blessed us with. I repeat, this is a blessing from God. And to the youth, remember this: tell your children and grandchildren that on Holy Thursday of 2020, Jesus taught us the true Holy Thursday. “Stay home. I’ll take care of you. If you are in charge, we will be in a precarious state. Stay home. I will take care of you.”
I will hide you, I will be your health, I will defend you—and not you. Stay home, be still as I pass by, and know that I am God. Just sit down and allow Me to unfold the mystery of My love for you. This day, Holy Thursday, is not about you doing things for Me. I don’t need that anymore. This Holy Thursday is Me loving you, doing everything for you. You have been missing my message all these centuries because you were so busy doing what you want to do for Me. Just sit down or kneel down and be alone and remember, remember with your heart, remember with your soul, and let the memory of Holy Thursday bring you into tomorrow with much hope.” Despite this experience, a better future awaits us because the God whom we remember is the God of hope for the future.
Remember, let God love you. Stay home. He will take care of you.