Here is how St. Augustine introduced today's Gospel:

"Before the feast of Passover [Pascha], Jesus, knowing that his hour had come that he should pass out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end (Jn 13:1). Pascha, brothers and sisters, is not, as some think, a Greek but a Hebrew word, but there is a most appropriate coming together of the two languages in this word. Because the Greek verb for to suffer is paschein, it has been thought that Pascha means suffering [passio]. In its own language, Hebrew, however, Pascha means a passage, and for that reason the people of God first celebrated Pascha when they fled from Egypt and passed across the Red Sea (Ex 24:29). Now that prophetical symbol has been brought to its full reality when Christ is led like a lamb to the slaughter (Is 53:7); his blood marks the lintels of our gates, that is, his cross is signed upon our foreheads, and we are freed from the ruin of this world as if from an Egyptian captivity or destruction, and we enact that most salutary passage when we pass from the devil to Christ and from this unstable world to his solidly founded Kingdom. We pass to God in his permanence lest we pass away with this passing world. Praising God for this grace given us, the Apostles says, He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us across into the Kingdom of his beloved Son (Col 1:13). (Augustine, Treatise 45 on Johns Gospel, 1).

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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