Tonight is the night when the end began. Jesus celebrated his final meal with his disciples, washing their feet and giving them a mandate (where the word “maundy” comes from):
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
Within a few hours he would be executed. His final command: love.
Love one another.
That is pretty awesome. Jesus showed us what love is by laying down his life for his friends and enemies.
A few good thoughts on this:
What do you do, to celebrate Holy Week? Do you have any special family traditions? How often during Holy Week do you go to church services (there are services on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday at the least in most church traditions). What most moves you about the whole Holy Week celebration?
Sometimes we make the mistake of only focusing on the more joyful notes and not on, for example, what Jesus says in John 13— ‘greater love has no one than he lay down his life for his friends.’ The call to a life of self-sacrifice and surrender and cross-bearing is at the heart of what Jesus was trying to teach his disciples shortly before he died.
It’s not my job to rename Christian holy days. But if it were, I might change the name of Maundy Thursday. I might change it from this word that none of us really know anymore to something we would all understand. Something like “Love One Another Thursday” or “The Last Thing Christ Really Wanted Us to Know Thursday.”
Because this is a message we Christians all need to hear. We don’t need to hide it behind fancy terms. We don’t need to just check it off as another night in holy week. We need to hear that this is how Christ said other people would know us: by how we love one another.
Maybe it would help us remember. Maybe it would help us remember not just what this night is about, but maybe it would help us remember what it means to be Christians. And maybe if we always had that reminder, if we always had that commandment to love in the front of our head, Christ’s dream for us would come true.
Maybe we wouldn’t be known as Christ’s disciples by the fact we put a Christian fish sticker on our car. Or wore a cross around our necks. Maybe we wouldn’t be know by what we said about what we believed. Maybe we wouldn’t be known by our what we voted for, or against. Maybe we wouldn’t be known by the anger some Christians express on the evening news, or the mean-spiritedness others show in their day-to-day lives. Maybe instead we would just be known by the one thing Christ wanted us to be known for: by how we love.
In a homily, the Pope earlier urged priests to do less “soul-searching” and engage more with parishioners.
“It is not in soul-searching… that we encounter the Lord,” he told hundreds of cardinals, priests and bishops in St Peter’s Basilica.
“We need to go out… to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters.”
Worshippers should “leave Mass looking as if they had heard good news”, he added.
Gesture of humility
During Thursday’s intimate service, the Pope washed and kissed the feet of 12 young detainees to replicate the Bible’s account of Jesus Christ’s gesture of humility towards his 12 apostles on the night before he was crucified.
The 12 inmates included two girls, one Italian Catholic and one of Serbian Muslim origin, local prison ombudsman Angiolo Marroni said ahead of the ceremony.