Bottom line: At the Last Supper Jesus offered his Body and Blood for us. Christian martyrs likewise have shed their blood for us. We see the examples of Fr. Marek Marius Rybinski and Blessed Luis Magana. As we face challenges to freedom of religion and conscience, they inspire us to give our lives for Jesus and for service to others.
I will give this homily mainly in English, but I would like begin with a summary in Spanish: Gracias por venir a esta Misa de la Ultima Cena. En la Ultima Cena Jesus ofrece su Cuerpo y Sangre por nosotros. Martires cristianos nos ayudan a entender el significado de su muerte salvadora. Voy a dar el ejemplo del Padre Marek Marius Rybinski que dio su vida el año pasado y tambien el ejemplo del Beato Luis Magaña Servin. Mientras enfrentamos retos a la libertad de religion en este pais, nos inspiran dar nuestras vidas por Jesus y el servicio a otros.
Thank you for coming to this Mass of the Last Supper. At the Last Supper Jesus instituted two Sacraments: The Eucharist and the Priesthood (Holy Order). He established the Eucharist when he said "This is my body...This is my blood." And he established the Priesthood with the words, "Do this in memory of me."
Along with these marvelous sacraments, the Last Supper has strong element of foreboding. Jesus speaks about his body "given up" and his blood "shed." And as we just he heard, he performs an act of astonishing humility - he washes the apostles' feet. All of this leads into what will immediately follow the supper: Jesus' agony in the garden, his betrayal by a trusted apostle and his arrest.
Tomorrow, Good Friday, we will hear a full account of what happened after Jesus' arrest: the mockery at his trial, the cruel torture by Roman soldiers and his public execution.
These events happened almost two thousand years ago, but I want to underline that they continue today. In many countries Christians follow the footsteps of Jesus by the shedding of their blood. For example last year, Fr. Marek Marius Rybinski, a 34-year-old Polish priest serving in Tunisia, was murdered.* They cut his throat and left his body at the School of Our Lady of Manouba where he worked. Such killings are so common that our media barely report them. In the past three decades over 1000 Catholic missionaries have been killed. That does not include the hundreds of other Christian missionaries and thousands of Christians in places where our faith is persecuted.
We are used to hearing about persecution of Christians in Communist countries like North Korea and Vietnam. And, of course, we know that Christians face martyrdom in Muslim nations, like Turkey, Egypt and Iraq. Persecution of Christians in those countries does not surprise us. What does surprise many is to hear about persecution in supposedly Christian countries. I would like mention one of them: our neighbor to the south, Mexico. The history is complex and the Catholic Church certainly has her sin and failings. But she also has sons and daughters who give amazing testimony for their faith.
This Holy Thursday, I would tell you about one of them: Blessed Luis Magana Servin. People who see his picture are struck by his eyes. He has the appearance of someone who could captivate just by looking at you. When Luis was a boy, a painter came to his town to do a portrait of the Blessed Virgin with the Christ child. Noticing Luis' lovely eyes, the artist used him as a model. That painting of the Virgin Mary with the child Jesus still hangs in the parish church of Arandas, Mexico.
As a teenager Luis joined the Association of Catholic Mexican Youth (Asociación Católica de la Juventud Mexicana. As a member of that group, he helped organize all night adoration in the parish. You might think such a young man would become a priest, but he realized that his vocation was marriage. He fell in love with a beautiful girl named Elvira Camarena Mendez. They had two children, the second born after Luis died.
I will tell you about his death tomorrow. (Mañana les contaré de la muerte del Beato Luis.) His death will help us understand the meaning of Jesus' death for us. Blessed Luis Magana represents thousands of Christian martyrs in the past one hundred years. In those ten decades more Christians shed their blood for Christ than in the other nineteen centuries combined.
Blessed Luis Magana also will help give a broader context for the challenge we are facing in our own nation - as we work to defend freedom of religion and conscience.
This evening I ask you to take home this message: At the Last Supper Jesus offered his Body and Blood for us. Christian martyrs likewise have shed their blood for us. We saw the examples of Fr. Marek Marius Rybinski and Blessed Luis Magana. As we face challenges to freedom of religion and conscience, they inspire us to give our lives for Jesus and for service to others. Amen.
*The motives behind the murder of Fr. Rybinski are unclear. It could have been a simple robbery by a lone man, but before the murder Salesians in Tunisia had received death threat letters with swastikas drawn at the bottom.
Pictures of Blessed Luis' Grandchildren
(fotos del los nietos del Beato Luis Magaña)
Homilias en Castellano Para Jueves Santo:
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Divine Mercy Novena (print ready in English & Spanish)
Parish Picture Album
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
(new, professional website)
National Petition to Stop HHS Mandate - important updates
Please take time to read what our bishops are saying about Religious Liberty & Conscience Protection
The Archdiocese of Seattle also has helpful resources regarding the defense of marriage and family