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The Message of Maundy Thursday

By Prem Lee.

Maundy Thursday is the remembrance of the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples.

This is now commemorated in the Holy Communion which we observe in our churches.

But the Thursday before Easter has always been treated as special and many churches have a foot washing ceremony, to remember that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Why was this necessary?

In those days, roads were dusty and with the slippers worn by people, the feet became very dusty and so needed to be washed before one entered the home. Hence, in large homes, a slave was assigned the duty of washing the feet. This system exists among some of the tribes in Jharkhand too.

For some reason, the washing of the feet was missed at the home of Mark where the Last Supper was said to have taken place. Jesus took this opportunity to convey multiple lessons to His disciples.

The primary lesson seems to have been that we need to care for each other and serve each other as disciples of Jesus. Help each other clean up our lives, not by being judgemental and authoritarian, but like a slave washing each other's feet. One of the very good ways of washing the feet of someone is to just listen to the person and let all the hurt, anger, frustration out of their lives, by sharing with you.

So, Jesus says in John 13:14, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Jesus further added in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The secondary lesson is the one Peter picked up, that the washing of the feet signified the washing of his sins, and so he says 'not just my feet but my whole body'. There needs to be a continuous examination of our lives, and the motives that drive our lives, to see that they are clean and have not been corrupted. That is why Paul says in 1 Cor 11:28 'to examine ourselves every time we partake of the Holy Communion'.

While this probably refers to loving each other, which is the primary meaning of the symbol, the church has recommended examining all areas of our life. As we prepare ourselves for Good Friday and Easter, let us ensure that our lives are cleansed of all the things Jesus would not approve of.


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