What is Maundy Thursday and why is it so important to many Christians throughout the world? The Thursday before Easter is known as either Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday. Maundy is derived from the Latin word for “command,” and refers to Jesus’ commandment to the disciples to “Love one another as I have loved you.”
In a nutshell, Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, which Christians consider the institution of Holy Eucharist, also known as the Lord’s supper or communion. It is described in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 22. At the Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus breaks bread, saying, “This is my body,” and pours wine, saying, “This is my blood.” He then asks the disciples to “Do this in remembrance of me.” Churches throughout the world may use juice or wine when sharing communion and bread can be a literal loaf of bread or wafer. The symbolism behind this practice is important in Christianity because it helps people feel as if they are sharing with God.
The Last Supper is derived from Jesus’ Jewish heritage and his observance of a Jewish holiday. This is important because The Last Supper was a Passover Seder, which means the feast of unleavened bread. Jesus and the disciples ate of unleavened bread. Passover is the Jewish festival commemorating the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, when they left so quickly there was no time for the bread to rise. That would be like having a meal in the oven and having an emergency to vacate. In emergencies, you don’t have time to pack or plan quickly. You take what you need quickly and worry about the rest later. His disciples followed that kind of mentality.
Maundy Thursday is also associated with foot-washing. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, an act described in the Gospel of John, chapter 13, as Jesus teaching them to be servants. It’s the ultimate act of “servant leadership.” Jesus instructs his followers to love and to serve. Most Protestant churches will have a service tonight, with a Eucharistic celebration that includes the washing of feet. I think one of the interesting components of this act is that the feet is one of the most affected parts of our body. We are all rough on our feet because they are the main factor that keeps us standing upright. Feet are dirty, sweaty, and rough with callouses and dry, cracked skin.
I generally don’t do many blogs that talk about the religious practices I do along with others. Maundy Thursday is different because it talks about the washing of the feet which in turn reminds me that no matter how dirty we may feel, there are opportunities for us to be cleansed. It’s a chance to start fresh and lay burdens down.
I don’t mean to offend anyone by speaking about this day but even if you don’t follow a religious sect, I hope that you are able to remember that each day is a fresh start. We are given new days to change our habits and hearts and that no matter where you may be in your life, there are people who feel just like you do. Maundy Thursday at the heart of the Holy Week in the Christian church. The next couple of blogs will be talking about Good Friday and Easter. My belief in God gets me through some of the most difficult journeys I face. I don’t expect anyone else to believe the way I do. I do expect others to figure out what’s important to them and if they have faith or not. Being comfortable with or without faith is a choice. It’s personal and meaningful.
So as I end today’s blog, let me leave you with a final thought. Have you ever washed someone else’s feet? If you have, you see the pleasure and pain that they have. If you haven’t, you might want to imagine how heavy someone else’s load might be. We are all quick to judge and we often assume the worst. So if you can’t relate to Maundy Thursday, I understand. But if the idea of fresh starts even when you know you’ve screwed up gives you hope, then I hope this Holy Week gives you a sense of peace and forgiveness.
After all, none of us are perfect. I hope this Easter season brings you all a sense of peace. Have a great Maundy Thursday, everyone.