It is the "Passover of the Lord." "This day will be a memorial feast for you." Today the Jewish community begins its remembering of the Passover. Today the Christian community begins its three-day recalling of Christ's passing-on.
In the first reading from the Roman Catholic Holy Thursday liturgy, we hear God giving Moses exact instructions about how to prepare for being passed over. The blood of the lamb shall be daubed on the door posts of the faithful and God will pass over them and they will be saved from God's anger. Forever then, there shall be a celebration in memory of this saving event.
In the second reading, Paul very simply and directly recounts how Jesus memorialized His own saving event. Jesus takes bread, takes a cup of wine and passes it on to His friends saying, "Remember me and what I have done with and for you." Love desires to be remembered in word and gestures. Jesus passes over to them the way He desires to stay with, and be remembered, by them. This too is a perpetual celebration in memory of a saving event.
In the Gospel we see some more passing over. Judas has already decided to pass Jesus over to the political leaders to be arrested. Jesus already has committed Himself to hand over or pass on to His disciples exactly how they are to remember Him.
In John's Gospel there is no retelling of the blessing of bread and wine. There is the exact instruction on how His friends are to live out their lives in remembrance of Him. He has washed their feet, including the feet of Peter, who wished to be passed over.
Jesus speaks to them with this saving gesture and then accompanies this action with this instruction, "Do you realize what I have done for you?" They do and they don't of course. He then says, "If I, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet."
Jesus, in His whole life, and now near the end, has given them and us an example to be followed. In a new way, Jesus is saying, "Do this too, in memory of Me."
So the Passover continues in how we remember the Servant Jesus.
Washing feet, washing diapers, washing tears away, washing prejudice away,
we do these things in memory of Him. He is the Passover Lamb; He
is the Bread of Life. He is the world's Foot-washer. Remembering
in our faculty of the mind is important; living that memory in ritual is
essential. Living that memory in the gestures of our simple lives
is sacramental. We are His Body, doing what He did, loving this world
into the saved community of His people.