Thursday, April 05, 2012

Maundy Thursday Lectio and Reflection

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, *got up from supper, and *laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He *poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He *came to Simon Peter. He *said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter *said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” Jesus *said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean. - John 13:1-11

"Maundy" comes from Latin word, mandatum, which means "mandate" or "commandment." "A new commandment I give to you," says Jesus. "That you love one another, even as I have loved you" (John 13:34).

In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark,  and Luke), on the night that Jesus was betrayed, the night before His death, He blesses the bread and cup and shares them with His disciples. However, for John, in place of the last supper, he highlights Jesus washing the disciples feet. It's in the context of John's gospel where Jesus talks about the new commandment, the only commandment: love. These two images are meant to overlap. This picture of Christ's broken body and shed blood overlapping this picture of service. The image is that of the love of God, the self-emptying (kenosis) of God in Jesus for the life of the world. Love. Compassion.

I won't pretend to say I have obeyed the commands of Jesus. I will sometimes fool myself enough just to make it through the day, but the fact is I am in need of a good foot-washing, a good cleansing, a savior who knows how to navigate all of my brokenness - what I have done, what I have left undone, and what's been done to me. Most especially, my persistent refusal to bend the knee with Him, to share in the downward mobility of his life.

As Michael Lodahl writes, "But what strikes me about Jesus, time and again, is His amazing gift for downward mobility ... Thinking about God in that way does not come naturally - which is one of the big reasons why Jesus came. Thinking of ourselves in that way does not come naturally - which is another reason why Jesus came. This really is downward mobility, and that's a direction that most of us have little natural interest in pursuing" (When Love Bends Down, 46ff).

I wonder what would have to change about your life, family, church, politics, biases, bigotries, prejudices, ignorance, and fears for something like the downward mobility of Christ to be even remotely recognizable in you?

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