“And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.” (John 13:3,4 NRSV).
The name Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin word mandatum. The word contains the root of the English word for “mandate” or “command”. On this Maundy Thursday we commemorate not only Jesus instituting the tremendous Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, but the new commandment of Jesus to “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 1:34,35). Meaning that the Eucharist in and of itself is incomplete if we do not live into its meaning in our every day lives.
The mysteries of our Christian Faith are all awesome and beautiful. Contemplative prayer and even centering prayer for the Christian comes from the graces we receive during this Holy Week. The very gift of our faith in the various aspects of the Christian Religion are life changing. As well as they should be. However, if all they remain are mysteries that we contemplate; yet we do not bear the fruit of the vine who is Jesus Christ in those we serve with humility; that which we contemplate is a mere abstraction and nothing more.
On this Maundy Thursday, Jesus commands all of us to make what we believe into a living reality. Is it any wonder that as part of St. Benedict wrote in The Rule in Chapter 53 The Reception of Guests; among the things he asks the community to do when receiving guests is to wash their feet? St. Benedict wanted the community to experience the meaning of the cross and the commandment of Jesus by doing what He commanded.
How will we not only observe but live into the meaning of Jesus’ commandment to love one another as He loves us?
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB