|Footwashing -- window, Christ Church, Korntal, Germany|
Thursday of Holy Week has multiple commemorations. Within a few hours, a host of events took place that proved to have lasting theological significance -- the washing of the disciples' feet by Jesus, his institution of ‘the Lord’s Supper’ in the upper room at Passover, his betrayal and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, his late night trial, and Peter’s denial before cock crow.
It is the first of these, however, from which the day takes its traditional name. ‘Maundy’ is a corruption of the Latin for ‘command’. The allusion is to a verse from the Gospel of the day, John 13:34: ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another’. Elsewhere, Jesus teaches that the whole of the Law and the Prophets can be summarized in the two ‘Great” Jewish commandments – to love God and neighbor. In the intimacy of the upper room and the last supper that he shared with his disciples, he adds a third commandment, the distinctively Christian injunction that ‘you love one another’. His initial washing of the disciples feet was intended to symbolize this love, and that is still the meaning the practice is supposed to have.
|Last Supper -- Andy Warhole|
Maundy Thursday presents us with an annual opportunity to make a new and serious attempt to change this, and thereby realize Christ’s most heartfelt wish, and his most inspiring prediction: ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’.