Bishop Alan Williams sm livestreamed Maundy Thursday Mass from Wickford parish last night. He was assisted – at a distance – by parish priest and Diocesan Master of Ceremonies Fr Mark Reilly and seminarian Alexander Johnson with the readings and the prayer of Spiritual Communion.
In his homily Bishop Alan said: “On Maundy Thursday we place ourselves with Jesus on the night before he died, the night he instituted the Holy Eucharist. The gospel reminds us that Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, saying ‘this is my body’. Then he did the same with the wine: ‘this is my blood’.”
He said: “In doing that he gave his disciples, his apostles, his followers for all time, food for the journey, which would prepare them for his suffering, death and resurrection.”
He continued: “Jesus is there for us always in his sacraments, his real presence.”
St John’s words tell us that he served his disciples and washed their feet, prompting protests from Peter, he said. “They could not easily understand what he was doing. But he was among them as a servant – and he washes our feet too, as an example.”
“During this crisis, we are separated from each other, with some of us facing great difficulties, anxious, troubled, distracted – but wherever we are tonight, in the words of St Paul, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.”
He prayed for all priests and particularly for all those caught up in the Covid-19 virus. “We pray for our healing and an end to infection. We pray for protection for all our key workers especially doctors, nurses and care workers.”
After the Mass, he invited those watching to stay and pray for a while. “After the Last Supper, Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane. Most of all at that point, he needed friends, he needed followers – but none were to be found. Traditionally, we stay with the Lord for a time on Maundy Thursday – as he always stays with us.”