Archdiocese of Chicago

Cardinal George's Network Archive

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Day of the Great Promise

Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Holy Week are days uniquely sacred. I like to think of Holy Thursday as the day of the great promise, of Good Friday as the day of the great sacrifice, and of Holy Saturday as the day of the great silence. Reading the Epistle to the Hebrews sets the stage for living these three days.

The Day of the Great Promise

Holy Thursday is the anniversary of a promise fulfilled. When Jesus (Jn.6) promised that he would give his flesh as food and his blood as drink, many of his first disciples left him. Those who did not leave him then, witnessed bread and wine transformed into body and blood at the Last Supper. But the Last Supper brings another promise: the bread and wine, separately consecrated, stand in for or symbolize the separation of Jesus’ body from his blood; they are a sign of his death. Jesus’ death is still to come on Thursday night, although it is the meaning of the Last Supper. The new promise is that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross will be really present to his disciples each time that bread and wine are consecrated to become the body and blood of the Lord.

Our lives are lived between promises made and fulfilled. A promise is a way of marking out the future without being able to control it. You can tell the deepest meaning of a person’s life by examining the promises they’ve made and, even more, by looking to see if the promises have been kept. Jesus always keeps his promises.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

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