Holy Thursday | April 9, 2020
See today’s readings here. This homily was preached online due to Covid-19. Video recordings of the Sunday evening Mass, where Fr. Brian regularly preaches, are available on Facebook at Delaware Koinonia. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found here: Salesian Sermons
So each summer, I make the trek out to Michigan for our yearly summer program for rising high school seniors.
It is always a really cool gathering as students from our different Salesian high schools from coast to coast gather to learn about leadership, Salesian Spirituality, and of course forge new friendships.
And on the last night of the camp, we always have a final mass in which the Oblate celebrant says the same thing.
Though we will never be all together again, we will always be present to one another as we gather around the altar for mass.
Now I must admit, I used to give a little eye roll at this point, for the students were still stuck on the “we will never be all together again” part and begin to get a tad weepy.
But I never gave too much thought to the second part of his line.
Until this year.
When I find myself marking the start of Triduum alone.
Celebrating in a small chapel with nothing but empty chairs surrounding me.
And yet, I don’t feel alone.
For I keep returning to my brother Oblate’s words. And suddenly, this chapel, that was once so empty, is filled with people as my heart recalls mass after mass I’ve experienced.
I picture St. Anthony’s on a Sunday night and I think of the Degnars front left, the Seipels and Vellas front right, the high school crew gathered together in the center and little Lennox climbing the steps to the sanctuary.
I picture mass at Salesianum with the student council members in the front row, locking hands for the Our Father each year.
I picture Nativity students in Willis Hall’s chapel during the summer program, gazing up at the stained glass as the rain pounded overhead.
I picture family and friends gathered for Christmas Eve in a gym set with folding chairs and Easter Vigil with my grandmother as my uncle sang in the choir.
I picture weddings of college classmates and 1st communions with my cousins, and watching friends enter the church through RCIA.
I picture Sunday night masses at college and Baccalaureate masses in high school and daily masses with my classmates in seminary.
I picture retreat masses that happened in darkened chapels and masses in conference rooms at the end of professional development and masses shared on patios in Ecuador, in crypts in Bethlehem and around dining room tables in Toronto
And suddenly, I too am a little teary-eyed.
For as I picture all the faces, I think of how many have gone before me. Who celebrate with me from the other side. I think of how many I have not seen in years, separated by countless miles and crazy schedules. Who are gathered this night watching their own services. And I even ponder the ones who are to come. The students and colleagues, the parishioners and family members who I have not yet celebrated with. But will. One day.
This is the beauty of tonight. The mass of the Lord’s Supper.
For tonight, we do not simply recall a historical event of 2000 years ago. A final meal in an upper room half a world away.
We celebrate the beginning of a meal that has never ended for those of us who believe.
A meal that has continued unabated throughout the centuries.
A meal in which every person has a seat at the table, a seat that is always theirs.
A meal in which everyone shares of the one loaf and one cup, nourished to then go forth and be what they have received.
So let us once again pull up our chairs around the table as the banquet is set before us. Ready to once again do this in remembrance of him.
May God be Praised.