Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Maundy Thursday

We had a good turnout for our Maundy Thursday liturgy, to begin our observance of the Easter Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil). As the liturgy commemorates the establishment of the Lord's Supper, I've always found it interesting that the Gospel Reading is from John's Gospel -- which has no record of the "institution narrative" ('This is my body.... This is my blood') found in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke or in the Epistles of Paul.

Rather, the Scripture passage appointed to be read as the Gospel that evening is the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. At the end of that experience, he tells them, "Go and do likewise." This is the 'mandatum' (command) from which "Maundy" Thursday takes its name, by the way.

Anyway, very often in my experience over the years, so much emphasis has been placed on the phenomenon of the Lord's Supper per se during that liturgy, the surprise of having that particular reading proclaimed goes unremarked upon.


The image of the one hosting the Seder meal getting down on the floor and washing the feet of the guests ought to surprise us. That sort of thing is just not done, at least not in polite company. Peter, as usual, misses the point (perhaps because it was such a surprise?), which adds a delightful note to the experience. He is, after all, venerated as primus inter pares. Ah, tradition!

In my religious tradition it would seem, given the centrality of that particular reading on this, the first night of the Easter Triduum, that we're supposed to understand that the Eucharist feeds us and strengthens us *for service*.

It's a shame that the solipsism of this present age so often blinds so many of us to the radical implications of all this....

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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