Holy Thursday Noodles

We eat to live. Everything that we taste has a greater effect on our well-being and the health of others. It is therefore not a surprise that our Lord used the image of food in spreading the Good News.

Bread and wine takes center stage on Holy Thursday in the commemoration of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist. This is the oldest of all Holy Week observances with all others, like the consecration of the holy oils in the Chrism Mass (Missa Chrismalis) and the reconciliation of all penitents added to it.

In Rome, all these take place in the daytime. But in Africa, the celebration of the Last Supper is done after the evening meal to be more precise with the original circumstance. In fact, to make it more “palpable” it was customary in the olden times to take a bath before one participates in the celebration. You clean yourself before you eat. Like washing our hands before every meal. Washing ourselves is not just hygienic, it is a ritual that protects a value. Every meal is sacred: it is what gives us life, an experience of Who continually sustains it.

But never in the history of humanity has the Life-Giver wash the feet of those He has given life. And in doing so, Jesus has affirmed that the elusive joy is found, not in the accumulation of accolades, but in the very service of each other. And the ultimate source of joy is in true friendship – when one is willing to give one’s life for one’s friends. Mother Teresa said that we sometimes forget that we are meant for each other.

In Camalig, Albay, we do not break bread literally, but we use more carbohydrates than bread. With friends, we usually share pansit guisado with a twist. Yes, the chinese egg noodles acquire a Bicol twist: the lemon juice that we bathe the noodles is spiked with siling labuyo.

Since it is not yet Good Friday, you still can eat all you want. Perhaps, start with the spirit of the mass: enjoy pansit guisado with friends. And crush more small chilies for a fantastic dinner – like it was your last.

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