Maundy* Thursday

“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other” (John 13:34, CEB).

There’s a reason why this day is called “holy” in the Christian tradition. There it is, distilled into one commandment: Love each other.

As a symbol of the love Jesus was talking about, he washed his followers feet and dried their feet with a towel. This was a common act of hospitality in Jesus’ day. As people traveled, their feet got dusty. A hospitable host would have a servant ready to wash a visitor’s feet when they came to visit.

In washing his followers’ feet, Jesus assumed the role of a servant. This was his example of love. He connects it to voluntary, humble service to others.

Jesus’ act of washing feet freaked Peter out. Jesus told Peter that he could have no part of him unless Peter allowed him to wash his feet.

The idea of loving one another through service still freaks out Christians. Servanthood is a sign of weakness. It’s something we pay other people to do for us. It’s humiliating.

But love for one another through service to one another is what the world desperately needs.

Instead, we Christians allow ourselves to get distracted by gray areas. We’re so easily sidetracked. I won’t list specific issues here, but I’ll leave it up to you to name them. They’re all over the news, the issues that we focus on in an effort to get along with each other. And it’s all up in our intimate relationships.

What would our lives be like if we responded from a place of servant love? How would those acts of love in the world change the world?

“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other” (John 13:34, CEB).

*Derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos“.

3 thoughts on “Maundy* Thursday

  1. For some reason, this has always resonated with me. Loving as we have been given the example (instead of “Love thy neighbor as thyself”) because it transcends the times at which we may feel ourselves unlovable. I also like it because it focuses on what we can do right now to bring the holy into the moment (as uncomfortable as that may be).


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