In services around the globe, today, there will be a huge focus on action. Pope Francis will wash and (we’re told) kiss the feet of juvenile offenders at a detention center near Rome. Even the lowest of low church (former) Mainline Protestants will remember the Lord’s supper with bread and Welch’s Grape Juice. Some will take my aversion to feet to heart, and wash hands instead. I HATE FEET, but I just don’t get this one. Even at Saint Paul’s, we’ll once again forgo the act of preaching in order to allow the full drama of the liturgy to have its full affect.
For all the attention paid to the actions of Jesus during his Last Supper, the Mandate that gives us Maundy Thursday has nothing to with: “Do this in remembrance of me” or “you ought to wash one another’s feet.” Instead, the Mandate that Jesus gives is about something much larger, a guiding principle that should direct all of our actions.
Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos.
A new commandment I give to you: Love one another.
The weekly remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, called The Eucharist, The Lord’s Supper, of Communion, is an act of love on behalf of Jesus’ disciples throughout the generations. We take the time to stop and remember with fondness the self-giving love of God. We partake in the symbols of that love: bread and wine, and are renewed. We go forth, empowered to express that love to a world that hungers and thirsts for righteousness. The annual remembrance of Jesus’ humble action of lovingly washing his friends feet is an act of love that should call us not to a once a year rote activity, but instead, should be our model for a life of agape love: self-giving, self-sacrificial love that tends to the needs of the other. Our lives should be, in fact, are commanded by God to be, lives of love to and for the world around us: be it Maundy Thursday or any random Wednesday in the middle of Ordinary Time.
Love one another.
It is so simple that it is impossible.
Without the love of God in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
A blessed Triduum to you, dear readers.