Holy Thursday – Orthodox Holy Week

The Last Supper of Christ with His disciples

The Last Supper of Christ with His disciples

Holy Thursday begins with the celebration of vespers and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil with a Reserved Eucharist in representation of the earthly presence of Christ realized at the Last Supper.

Two events shape the liturgy of the Great and Holy Thursday: The Last Supper of Christ with His disciples and the betrayal by Judas.

The meaning of both is in love. The Last Supper is the ultimate revelation of God’s redeeming love for man, of love as the very essence of salvation. And the betrayal by Judas reveals that sin, death and self-destruction are also due to love, but to deviated and distorted love, love directed at that which does not deserve love.

In the evening, anticipating the Matins of Friday morning, the Holy Passion service of the reading of the Twelve Gospels is conducted. In these readings Christ’s last instructions to his disciples are presented, as well as the prophecy of the drama of the Cross, Christ’s prayer, and his new commandment.

The twelve (12) Gospel readings are:
(1) John 13:31-18:1
(2) John 18:1-29
(3) Matthew 26:57-75
(4) John 18:28–19:16
(5) Matthew 27:3-32
(6) Mark 15:16-32
(7) Matthew 27:33-54
(8) Luke 23:32-49
(9) John 19:19-37
(10) Mark 15:43-47
(11) John 19:38-42
(12) Matthew 27:62-66

The Good Thief
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8_Ra_t__C8&feature=related

The Last Supper of Christ with His disciples

The Last Supper of Christ with His disciples

Thursday: The Last Supper
Two events shape the liturgy of the Great and Holy Thursday: The Last Supper of Christ with His disciples and the betrayal by Judas.

The meaning of both is in love. The Last Supper is the ultimate revelation of God’s redeeming love for man, of love as the very essence of salvation. And the betrayal by Judas reveals that sin, death and self-destruction are also due to love, but to deviated and distorted love, love directed at that which does not deserve love.

The mystery of this unique day, and its liturgy where light and darkness, joy and sorrow are so strangely mixed, challenges us with the choice on which the eternal destiny of each one of us depends, ‘Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that H is hour was come … having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end . . .’ (John 13:1) To understand the meaning of the Last Supper, we must see it as the very end of the great movement of Divine Love which began with the creation of the world and is now to be consummated in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Christ washing the feet of His disciples

Christ washing the feet of His disciples

When the glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of their feet before the supper, the impious Judas was darkened by the disease of avarice, and to the lawless judges he betrayed You, the Righteous Judge. Behold, this man because of avarice hanged himself. Flee from the insatiable desire which dared such things against the Master! O Lord Who deals righteously with all, glory to You!

Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior
Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung on a tree. The King of the Angles is decked with a crown of thorns. He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple mockery. He who freed Adam in the Jordan is slapped in the face. The Bridegroom of the Church is affixed to the cross with nails.

He who clothes Himself with light as with a garment stood naked for trial. He was struck on the cheek by hands that He himself had formed. A people that transgressed the law. Nailed the Lord of Glory to the cross.

Then the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Then the sun was darkened,
Unable to bear the sight of God outraged,
Before Whom all things tremble.
Let us worship Him.


The Wise Thief
“The Wise Thief didst Thou make worthy of Paradise, in a single moment, O Lord. By the wood of thy Cross illumine me as well, and save me.”