Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.I'm thoroughly arrested by this unfolding moment.
"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. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!"The Christ is only hours away from enduring the most hellish ordeal that could be unleashed against anyone. The spotless Passover lamb would soon have the sins of the vilest offenders laid upon his shoulders. It's weight may have felt like the shattering blow from a pile driver. It's at moments of reflection, such as now, my careless sins and betrayals become a foul, wretched stench in my own nostrils. I'm reminded of what a creep I can be, and stunned by the Divine love that was outstretched on my behalf.
The unfolding picture is truly stunning. Christ, in demonstrating this love that loves someone to the end, strips down to his inner garments and girds himself with a towel in preparation to wash the feet of his disciples. Try to imagine a dinner where the host suddenly strips down to his briefs and tee-shirt or her bra and slip; it would be an awkward moment at the very least. Jesus is now seen as the servant of all; transformed from High King of Heaven to lowly house slave. All were shocked, but Peter seems to have been scandalized as seen in his reaction. Jesus doesn't mince words; without this "washing" St. Peter would have no share in the Kingdom. Peter suddenly gets it, and all but asks that his hands and head be washed as well. Jesus, speaking words of encouragement, assures him that in his surrender & repentance that he's been cleansed. Yet even the regenerate will need the washing found in confession as a result of walking through this world.
For a visual learner, this moment in the Gospel packs a powerful punch. It teaches volumes about the Kingdom and how it will unfold. It shows us that the Kingdom looks far more like a tiny sun-baked Albanian nun cradling the dying and much less like a slick, polished preacher trying to sell you your best life now. Its self-emptying rather than self-agrandizing. Our Lord has no need or use for proud popinjays who seem to pervade the vast spiritual and cultural wasteland. The "No Fear" Crowd does little more than stir His holy wrath. He saw all of these traits in His onetime anointed cherub, and threw both him and his company of fallen angels down from Heaven. No, He seeks something quite to the contrary.
Now, what about this "Maundy" business? Maundy is the anglicized version of the Latin word "mandatum" (mandate). It was on this night that Jesus gave his disciples a new command (or new mandate) in which he told us to "Love one another". It would be by this love, that the world would know that we belong to the Almighty.
Consider on this Maundy Thursday... Our Lord seeks those who've grasped the concept that in the greater scheme of things, they're truly of no account. They've got nothing to bring to the table. These are the ones whom the Master can fill with His power, and may well use them mightily in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom in both word and action.