An ongoing reflection of Maundy Thursday —
In 2011, I wrote –
I hope that you and yours begin this Resurrection season with the appropriate memorial.
This will be a different season for us, seeing that this will be our first Maundy Thursday. We will be attending service this evening, and the next for Good Friday, and I am looking forward to it.
This holiday must be larger than Christmas, and one which lasts throughout the Church year. Christ is the center of the Christian life, and if He is the center there, and then in our congregations, then this must be the moment for a celebration in our ecumenical spirit. Let those who love Christ celebrate one with another.
Remember John 17.
In 2014, I wrote…
Now, it is 2014. Maundy Thursday is no longer new to me, but a day on my calendar I look forward to. It is part of the Easter weekend, as it were.
As a scholar, or rather, as one who has scholarly pretensions, it is difficult to quantify, or qualify, my faith by academic standards. There really is no need for such a labor, I would offer — since there are times that we simply have to echo John Wesley in saying, “I choose to believe.”
So, today, I choose to believe Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil give away to the a-historical* Resurrection of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. We begin our time of reflection with a service harkening back to John with the washing of the feet. It was a sign not just of humility, but of unity.
As many in the UMC work to tear her apart, today I will join in prayer with those who are working to remember not just the foot washing of John 13, but so too the prayerful lament of Jesus in John 17.
Again, in 2014, I write: Remember John 17.
*Because I believe the Resurrection, while a moment in history, also transcends history.
Maundy Thursday, 2016 —
It is now 2016 and things, like they do, change. I more firmly believe in the hope of the resurrection promised and preached during these few days. My experiences in these last few years have changed me, for the better I hope. I more firmly believe in the power of God demonstrated in a real and tangible way. My doctrinal beliefs tract more orthodox.
Maundy Thursday represents the Covenant of the Blood and the Body. It is the day we celebrate the Last Supper, the first of many. What hope does this give to us today? In the Eucharist, we have communion not merely with God, but with others. Yet, we separate not only from God but from one another because we have demanded God act a certain way, or that our neighbor, a tare they may be, cannot be worthy to worship alongside of us.
Today, I am left to remember that unity was not enough for Jesus to suspend his atoning work. Yes, he could have given over the expectations of the Twelve, but that is not where real unity is made. Real unity is found in the Covenant Christ made, not between the disciples, but between God in Christ to the world. Unity is in God; unity is in Christ. This is demonstrated and spoken of not only at the Last Supper, but in each time we take the Eucharist so that we take within ourselves the manna of heaven, that it becomes one with us, signifying our union with God.
At the same time, however, the sacraments are thereby united in this one place, our cathedral church, and set with this church in the unity of the Catholic Church, the unity of all bishops, in the unity of that chain of laying-on of hands which takes us back to the calling of the first apostles, to that hour by the Lake of Genesareth, to the Last Supper and that time after the Resurrection of the Lord. We are all anointed at baptism and confirmation. So today we are going to try to enter likewise from within into the great unity of the Body of Christ, into the Paschal Mystery from which our healing comes; to ask the Lord that we may live out ever more truly our baptism and confirmation and may thus become worthy also of his eucharistic presence.1
On this Maundy Thursday, real unity — that is, growing closer to God in Christ individually and corporately — will be on my mind.
- Joseph Ratzinger, God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life (ed. Stephan Otto Horn and Vinzenz Pfnür; trans. Henry Taylor; San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003), 94. ↩