Receiving the Eucharist should remind Catholics who they are and compel them to conform their lives to Christ, Archbishop-designate Bernard Hebda said in his Holy Thursday homily March 24 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.
The Eucharist “takes us back to the upper room, where the Lord offered his body and blood to the first apostles,” who were told to “do this in memory of me,” he said.
The Eucharist and Jesus’ example shows “how we ought to be transformed into men and women who imitate Jesus” in sacrifice and be servants to others, he said.
The Mass was Archbishop Hebda’s first after the March 24 announcement that Pope Francis had named him the new archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Archbishop Hebda had served since June 2015 as the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator, a role he had assumed was temporary, as he had been on track to take the helm of the Newark, New Jersey, archdiocese after its archbishop’s anticipated retirement in July.
When celebrating previous Masses at the Cathedral of St. Paul, Archbishop Hebda said he had looked across the sanctuary at the empty archbishop’s chair, and wondered who would eventually take that seat.
“Little did I imagine that I would be sitting there,” he said, a place he will assume after he is installed the archdiocese’s archbishop May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. He called the appointment a “great privilege” and said he was grateful to Pope Francis.
Turning the focus to Holy Thursday and the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, he pointed to the “rich symbolism” in liturgy’s readings, and linked the preparation of the Isarelites for Passover to Christians’ preparation for the journey to eternal life.
He recalled a homily given by St. John Paul II, where the pope praised the faithfulness of Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, a Vietnamese priest and nephew of Vietnam’s first president. The cardinal was imprisoned in Vietnam from 1975 to 1988 because of his faith and family connections. Archbishop Hebda relayed that the cardinal was prohibited from celebrating Mass, but he would obtain drops of wine and water to consecrate, and it would transform him, he said.
He previously told The Catholic Spirit that the Holy Thursday announcement was a reminder of the importance of the Eucharist, priesthood and service in his new role.
“It’s the Eucharist that brings us together,” he said. “The bishop is called to be that source of unity in his local Church, and where that takes place is at the table of the Lord.”
As for the commemoration of the institution of the priesthood, he noted that traditionally, Holy Thursday included a celebration of the chrism Mass, where priests renew their commitment to the Church.
“So today is very much a celebration of the priesthood and that bond that unites bishop and priest,” he said, adding that he was looking forward to working with the priests of the archdiocese in his new role.
Regarding service, he said that everyone is called to serve. “Our Lord came to serve rather than be served,” he said, “and a Holy Thursday nomination is a wonderful reminder for a new archbishop that it’s all about service.”
After the homily, Archbishop Hebda washed the feet of eight men and women, kissing the feet when he was finished.
Category: Welcome Archbishop Hebda