Maundy – Holy Thursday
Today is often called “Maundy Thursday.” As often as I’ve heard that name for Holy Thursday, I’ve wondered what on earth “Maundy” even meant… It’s been bugging me enough lately, so I looked it up.
Maundy is the ceremony of washing the feet of the poor, and also refers to Jesus’ washing His Apostle’s feet at the Last Supper in the Gospel of John, chapter 13. Jesus got down on His hands and knees, and cleaned the dirtiest part of His band of Apostles. In doing this, He was trying to show us many things… We’ll look at three of them.
First, washing someone’s feet is nasty work – and if you think it’s bad in 2013, just imagine what it was like when people wore, not Nike’s, but thin sandals (if anything!) and walked everywhere on dirt roads! That had to have been GROSS! When feet needed washing (and this was often!), it was the job of the servants. When Jesus got around to Peter in verse six, Peter knew that Jesus was the Lord of the Universe, and felt like he (Peter) should wash Jesus’ feet, not the other way around! Jesus gently reminded him though that He knew Peter didn’t understand… and that was ok. “…You’ll understand later,” Jesus promises in verse seven. Jesus goes on to say that if He doesn’t wash Peter’s feet, Peter cannot have any inheritance with Him. Peter sees a little more clearly, and asks that Jesus not only wash his feet, but all the rest of him as well! (Oh Peter…!) Jesus doesn’t always ask us to understand every little thing He does in our lives, but He does ask us to lay aside our fear and trust Him. “You will understand later.”
Second, by washing nasty, dirty feet, Jesus is asking us to submit our dirtiness to Him. Peter didn’t want to! He saw how dirty his dirtiness was, and didn’t want Jesus to touch it. (I can’t say that I blame him!) Peter wanted to give Jesus the best and perfect parts of himself, and not let the yucky see the light of day, especially when Jesus, the Son of God, was looking. Jesus shows us though that He WANTS these parts of us. He wants you to give Him the yuckiest, nastiest, grossest parts of yourself, so that He can cleanse and heal them. Jesus told St. Faustina to “give Him her misery,” because it was the only part of her that was truly hers to give. The pretty stuff, the virtues, etc… they were all gifts and graces from God. Though we should offer our gifts to God also, He mostly wants the nasty stuff, so that He can relieve, clean, and heal. “If I do not wash you, you have no inheritance with Me.” Peter said it best: “Then not just my feet, Lord, but my hands and head as well!”
Third, Jesus is setting an example for us. He says in verse fourteen that “if I, therefore, the Master and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.” He shows us by His own actions how we should love one another. Not only did He tolerate the dirtiness, but He embraced it, and washed it with His own hands. What would this look like in our lives? A smile to a complete stranger is a good place to start! Digging deeper though, Jesus is teaching us by example that we ought to bear one another burdens, and love each other through highs and lows. Do you know someone struggling with sin? PRAY for them!! And then TELL them you’re praying! Affirm their good efforts, console them in failure, encourage, and offer them every kindness! ‘Wash their feet’ as much as you can, and in this way, you imitate Christ!
Jesus poured Himself out completely for us, and today, Maundy (aka washing-of-the-feet) Thursday, He will ask you to pour yourself out alongside Him. How will you answer?
“Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.” John 13:5