Each year on Holy Thursday, the first reading for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is taken from Exodus 11-12. That same reading is today’s first reading. In the Gospel reading from Matthew 12, the Pharisees call Jesus out because His disciples were “working” on the sabbath.
Today’s first reading contains God’s instructions for the children of Israel for the Passover. At the end of the passage, God says, “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.” Even today, the Jews celebrate the Passover, not as a past event, but they believe they are participating in that “perpetual institution.”
Catholics believe the same thing about the Mass. The Mass is a participation in the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. We don’t believe that we are simply commemorating a past event. For us, the Mass – the new Passover – is also a perpetual institution. And just as at Passover the Jews must eat the flesh of the lamb, so do we eat the Flesh of the Lamb of God.
Father, we thank you for Christ, our Paschal Lamb. May we come to a greater knowledge of and love for the perpetual institution we celebrate in the Mass. Amen.