March 28, 2013

Thursday of Holy Week has a couple of different names based on your Christian affiliation. Growing up as an Episcopalian, it was known as Maundy Thursday:

While different denominations observe Maundy Thursday in their own distinct ways, two important biblical events are the primary focus of Maundy Thursday solemnizations:

Before the Passover meal, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. By performing this lowly act of service, the Bible says in John 13:1 that Jesus “showed them the full extent of his love.” By his example, Jesus demonstrated how Christians are to love one another through humble service. For this reason, many churches practice foot-washing ceremonies as a part of their Maundy Thursday services.

During the Passover meal, Jesus took bread and wine and asked his Father to bless it. He broke the bread into pieces, giving it to his disciples and said, “This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Then he took the cup of wine, shared it with his disciples and said, “This wine is the token of God’s new covenant to save you–an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you.” These events recorded in Luke 22:19-20 describe the Last Supper and form the biblical basis for the practice of Communion. For this reason, many churches hold special Communion services as a part of their Maundy Thursday celebrations. Likewise, many congregations observe a traditional Passover Seder meal.

Roman Catholics know Thursday of Holy Week as the beginning of what’s known as the Paschal Triduum:

The Easter Triduum begins on Holy Thursday with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, is continued through Good Friday with the celebration of the passion of the Lord on Holy Saturday, reaches its high point in the Easter vigil, and concludes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday.

The Season of Lent ends on Thursday of Holy Week. Then the Church remembers the death and resurrection of Jesus during the Easter Triduum. These three days are the most important time of the Church year.

I found this wonderful short homily by Jane Stranz to commemorate not just Maundy Thursday but World Water Day as well:

Water Passion and Betrayal…
Water Passion and commitment…
Bread, water and wine

Judas does it with a kiss
Pilate does it by publicly washing his hands
Hoping that such ritual political cleanliness will prove it wasn’t his fault
The Chief Priests and the authorities plot and scheme, set traps, try to buy off his friends and incite the crowd to call for blood
And the crowd do it by shrieking in glee and passion “crucify him!”
(Of all these we only ever hear of Judas feeling unbearable guilt…)


In the end they come with spears and swords in the night

Truth and integrity won’t stand much of a chance

The bowl and the towel are symbols of that truth, integrity and resistance

Jesus takes responsibility
The great leader becomes a foot-washing humble slave
The teacher does not run away or hide
He takes responsibility in a very personal and intimate way for his disciples and their future


There is beautiful intimacy and caring in the way Jesus washes and cares for their feet.
There’s some obstinacy and focus too in the way he says “no, this is the way I must do it”
Kneeling there to wash his friends’ feet, this is his priority,
his passion and cross are not far away,
yet he takes time to do this unessential, essential, caring thing.


The flogging and mocking and the crown of thorns and the cross will break his human body and spirit.
The friends will be alone, their feet will tread the path without him, but not one step will be taken without a deep memory of this intimate final washing by the master.

From that time forwards every time they wash one another’s feet, every time they serve others sacrificially in the world they will remember him cleansing and cooling their aching feet and pains with water, their master kneeling before them in humility.

In remembrance of that profound act of caring and service we also seek to follow Christ today as we care, heal and serve.

Jesus’ first miracle in John’s gospel is to turn water into wine.
Dead on the cross, water and blood pour from his side when it is pierced by the soldier’s spear. That water is a sign of the body’s agony and breakdown in death and speaks deeply of Christ’s humanity and life offered up.

Later risen from the dead he will call his disciples to conquer the deep and make a miraculous catch of fish from the waters.

As we meditate Christ’s passion,
As we meditate these signs of sacrament before us
As we meditate his deeply personal service of others,

We reflect on our own service of others.

We also seek to understand and enter into the suffering of so many in our world whose right to be human is being undermined by their daily struggle for access to clean water.

So are we going to follow Christ source of living waters
and take up the cloth and the bowl
or will we follow Pilate and wash our hands?


Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 03:05 | Comments Off on The Holiest Days
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