3 'mandates' of Jesus are recalled on Maundy Thursday. At a meal with his disciples on the night before he died, Jesus told them:
- to share bread and wine in remembrance of him
- to wash one another's feet
- to love one another
In a ritual sense the sharing of bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus is probably the most obeyed of any of these three.
Foot-washings often form part of Christian worship on Maundy Thursday as a reminder that we should have the same attitude of humble service that Jesus demonstrated.
To love one another is specifically for the community of Jesus' followers. Did Jesus know how hard they (and we) would find that? It is a 'new commandment', additional to the great commandments to love God and to love neighbour.
The recognition of our failure as Christians to share food and drink generously, to serve humbly and to love one another as Christ loves us throws us back on our need for "the all-transforming presence of the Lord" as Malcolm Guite puts it in his sonnet for Maundy Thursday quoted below:
Here is the source of every sacrament,
The all-transforming presence of the Lord,
Replenishing our every element
Remaking us in his creative Word.
For here the earth itself gives bread and wine,
The air delights to bear his Spirit's speech,
The fire dances where the candles shine,
The waters cleanse us with his gentle touch.
And here he shows the full extent of love
to us whose love is always incomplete,
In vain we search the heavens high above,
The God of love is kneeling at our feet.
Though we betray him, though it is the night.
He meets us here and loves us into light.
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