Great and Holy Thursday – Byzantine Rite – 13 April 2023

Troparion — Tone 8

When the glorious disciples were enlightened / at the washing of their feet before the supper, / then the impious Judas was darkened, ailing with avarice / and to the lawless judges he betrays You, the righteous Judge. / Behold, O lover of money, this man who because of money hanged himself. / Flee from the greedy soul which dared such things against the Master. / O Lord, who is good towards all men, glory to You!

Reading from the Book of Exodus 19:10-19

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes.

“And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

“You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.

‘Not a hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot with an arrow; whether man or beast, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain.”

So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes.

And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not come near your wives.”

Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.

And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.

Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.

And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.

Reading from the Book of Job 38:1-23; 42:1-5 

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

“Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?

To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone,

When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb;

When I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band;

When I fixed My limit for it, and set bars and doors;

When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!’

“Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place,

That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?

It takes on form like clay under a seal, and stands out like a garment.

From the wicked their light is withheld, and the upraised arm is broken.

“Have you entered the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in search of the depths?

Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?

Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this.

“Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And darkness, where is its place,

That you may take it to its territory, that you may know the paths to its home?

Do you know it, because you were born then, or because the number of your days is great?

“Have you entered the treasury of snow, or have you seen the treasury of hail,

Which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?

Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.

You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.

Gospels of Matt. 26:2-20; John 13:3-17; Matt. 26:21-39; Luke 22:43-45; Matt. 26:40-27:2

“You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,

and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him.

But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper,

a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.

But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?

For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”

But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me.

For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.

For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.

Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests

and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.

So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”

And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’”

So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.

When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,

rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.

After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”

For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”

So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?

You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”

And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?”

He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me.

The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.”

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.

For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”

Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”

Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”

Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”

And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.

Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.

And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow.

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?

Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people.

Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.”

Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.

And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?

How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”

In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me.”

But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.

And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.

Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,

but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward

and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”

And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?”

But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!

What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.”

Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands,

saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?”

Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”

But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”

And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”

And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”

Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed.

And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death.

And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor.


 Today is Holy Thursday; popularly called, “Maundy Thursday.” It is as well known as the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The day the Church invites us to reflect on two of the most important mandates of Jesus: The institution of the Holy Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood: The feast of love and service.

Traditionally, we commemorate three great and outstanding anniversaries that form the heart and source of the church’s mission, which gives direction, vitality, and inspiration to the body of Christ, the Church

 The anniversary of the first Holy Mass (Institution of the Holy Eucharist)

 The anniversary of the institution of ministerial priesthood in order to perpetuate the Holy mass, to convey God’s forgiveness to repentant sinners, and to preach the Good News of salvation

 The anniversary of Jesus’ proclamation  of his new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you”

It is the day we recall how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the New Testament Passover. Jesus concluded and replaced the Seder meal with its roasted Paschal lamb by giving his apostles his own body and blood under the appearance of bread and wine as spiritual food and drink. A gesture of love bound in service.

The two great Sacraments of love and service we commemorate today, are
symbolically, represented by the STOLE and TOWEL.
The Stole symbolizes union with Christ in the Eucharist and the Towel symbolizes union with humanity by service (The ministries of love and service). The Stole represents the Dignity of the Priest, and the Towel stands for the Duty of the Priest. The priest is called upon to be united with the Lord in the Eucharist and with the people as their servants.

The Eucharist and Priesthood are two interwoven sacraments of love that cannot go without each other and are lived out in service to God and humanity. That is why, there is no Priesthood without the Eucharist and there is no Eucharist without the priesthood. Then, there will be no viable Eucharist celebration and institutionalized priesthood without love, and love itself becomes deficient, without the towel of service.

The ministries of Stole and Towel, which symbolize our services to God and humanity are clearly upheld in Jesus’ Last Testament as described in today’s Gospel text, “You should wash each other’s feet,” and St Paul’s representation of the institution of the Holy Eucharist in the Second reading.

Jesus, by washing the feet of his disciples, challenges us towards being altruistic; offering humble services for the good of humanity, both inside of us and outside of us. When we do so, we love and serve Jesus and equally revere Jesus’ presence in one another.

By giving his Divinity and offering us his body and blood as food, Jesus extends the same loving invitation for sacrificial sharing and self-giving love. Let us imitate the self-giving model of Jesus who shares with us his own Body and Blood and who enriches us with his Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. We realize this by sacrificing our talents, time, and blessings in the spirit of self-giving to others. This is the only way we could actualize and obey this Last Testament of Love and Service: “Love one another as I have loved you by washing each other’s feet.”

The second reading of today’s liturgy chides us never to relent in proclaiming Christ’s death, through continuous participation in the Eucharistic table. This strengthens us to become Christ-bearers and Christ-conveyers, who are charged to go and glorify the Lord by our lives at the end of the Mass.

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