Maundy Thursday: cleansing, humility, supper
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you (Jn 13:1-15) .
Today we remember that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and then ate bread and drank wine for the last time. We remember the Last Supper day after day all year round: we only focus on foot-washing only once a year, and rarely is it re-created. Perhaps we should precede every celebration of the Eucharist with foot-washing or a modern equivalent; a little induced humility to dispel superiority and confront our pride.
After all, we all need to wash our feet, so having someone perform for us a necessary act without expectation of payment is a manifestation of humility and service. And we all need to eat, but the bread and the wine are privileges. Only if we are humble can we dine with Him; only when everything else fades into oblivion can we feed on Him.
There’s a bit of fuss at the moment about the precise day of the Last Supper: apparently, it was yesterday, not today. It is typical that we get bound in technical minutiae and forget the commemoration. Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th and Easter Day is determined by the lunar cycle, the solar cycle, the division of each year into 365 days and a 1,700 year old Church ruling. Does it matter?
We must focus on humility, feeding on Him, and praying as he did in the garden of Gethsemane, with grief and tears of anguish, that our hour will come, that the cup of suffering may pass and that all believers may be one. Without our hour and in the absence of our cup, we will never be one. Supper’s ready.