Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Pes'ho/Maundy Thursday, Feet-washing, Last Supper, Agony in Gethsemane
Volume 7 No. 409 April 11, 2017
 
II. Pes'ho/Maundy Thursday Reflections

Maundy Thursday

by Mel Lawrenz

Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
(John 13:31-35)

The word "Maundy" comes from the Latin word for commandment (mandatum), which Jesus talked about when he told his disciples that he was leaving them "a new commandment," that they "love one another." There were probably so many things going on in the disciples' minds in that upper room where they had their last supper together, including fear and bewilderment from Jesus telling them that someone in that very room would betray him.

Jesus handed the betrayer a piece of bread, just as he had been feeding all his disciples all along. Always giving, always gracing. Jesus fed thousands of people with fish and loaves, and every word that came out of his mouth was spiritual food for those who listened and understood. But on this night he fed them differently. Passing the bread, and then the wine, he spoke ominous, comforting words: "this is my body... this is my blood." This was not an ordinary supper, not even an ordinary Passover. His words connected with what he had said on the shores of far-away Galilee "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.... whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn. 6:35, 54).

Jesus told them to repeat this unique meal in the future, and then it was time to go out into the chilly night. In a quiet garden among olive trees, quiet but for the deep night sounds of dogs barking in the distance, Jesus prayed. In agony he prayed. The specter of shameful execution and of bearing the curse of sin tore into the human consciousness of Jesus. And in the end it was sheer obedience to the divine plan that carried Jesus into the hands of the conspirators waiting for him. Did the disciples remember "the new command"?

Ponder This:

What would have been going on in your mind had you been one of the disciples at the last supper or in the garden of Gethsemane?

Source: Knowing Him - An Easter Devotional

Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet

by Max Lucado

"The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus . . . got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, . . . and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him."
John 13:25 NIV

It has been a long day. Jerusalem is packed with Passover guests, most of whom clamor for a glimpse of the Teacher. The spring sun is warm. The streets are dry. And the disciples are a long way from home. A splash of cool water would be refreshing.

The disciples enter the room, one by one, and take their places around the table. On the wall hangs a towel, and on the floor sits a pitcher and a basin. Any one of the disciples could volunteer for the job, but not one does.

After a few moments, Jesus stands and removes his outer garment. He wraps a servant's girdle around his waist, takes up the basin, and kneels before one of the disciples. He unlaces a sandal and gently lifts the foot and places it in the basin, covers it with water, and begins to bathe it.

One grimy foot after another, Jesus works his way down the row. In Jesus' day the washing of feet was a task reserved not just for servants, but for the lowest of servants.

In this case the One with the towel and basin is the King of the universe. Hands that shaped the stars now wash away filth. Fingers that formed mountains now massage toes. And the One before whom all nations will one day kneel now kneels before his disciples. Hours before his own death, Jesus' concern is singular.

He wants his disciples to know how much he loves them.

You can be sure Jesus knows the future of these feet he is washing. These feet will dash for cover at the flash of a Roman sword. Only one pair of feet won't abandon him in the garden. . . . Judas will abandon Jesus that very night at the table!

What a passionate moment when Jesus silently lifts the feet of his betrayer and washes them in the basin.

Jesus knows what these men are about to do. By morning they will bury their heads in shame and look down at their feet in disgust. And when they do, he wants them to remember how his knees knelt before them and he washed their feet. . . .

He forgave their sin before they even committed it. He offered mercy before they even sought it.

[The above first appeared in 'Just Like Jesus' by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson)]

Today's reading is from On Calvary's Hill: 40 Readings for the Easter Season - eBook (Thomas Nelson). 2013 by Max Lucado. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Lord's Supper

by Fr. Altier

Reading I (Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14)
Reading II (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
Gospel (St. John 13:1-15)

Today as we celebrate this feast of the Lord's Supper, we are reminded not only of the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist but also the institution of the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ. It was at the Last Supper that Jesus made His disciples into priests, when He commanded them to continue to offer the sacrifice as He had done. Do this in memory of Me, He said.

Now we have to understand what that concept of the memorial is because we hear the same thing in the first reading from the Book of Exodus when God says to the people of Israel: This shall be an everlasting memorial for you. The memorial that Our Lord is speaking of does not mean "In the future, remember back" but rather it means "Make it real." When the Jewish people celebrate the Passover, they are not remembering something that happened 3,500 years ago; they are in the Passover today. They are making it real. They are not making it happen again; they are making it happen still. That is exactly what happens with the Eucharist. It is an everlasting memorial; it continues. We do not just simply remember that Jesus died for us on the Cross 2,000 years ago, nor do we sacrifice Him again. He is being sacrificed still. It is a sacrifice which has never stopped, and it never will.

When we look, then, at what happened at the Last Supper, there are a couple of things that we have to see. First of all, in the Gospel reading we hear about Our Lord getting up from the supper and washing the feet of His disciples. Saint Peter objects to the Lord washing his feet, and we can understand why. According to Jewish law, not even a slave could be required to wash his master's feet because to wash the feet of somebody was considered to be beneath human dignity. No one could be forced to wash the feet of anyone, according to Jewish law. And so here is the Master - Whom Saint Peter understood as and has already professed to be God - and He is bending down to wash Peter's feet, which not even a slave could be required to do. Peter, of course, recognized what was going on and said, "Absolutely not." But Jesus tells him, If you do not allow this, then you will have no part of Me. Peter, then, being what he is, said, "Well, then my hands and feet as well. Do it all! I want to be part of You completely." But he did not fully understand yet what the Lord was doing. Then when Jesus was finished, He said, What I have done, you also must do, because He had left an example for them.

Well, the example of washing the feet was something that was even less than what He was just about to do, because then He took the bread and wine, and He changed them into His own Body and Blood, into the fullness of His own Person. It is not merely flesh and blood, but it is the fullness - the Body, the Blood, the Soul, and the Divinity of Jesus Christ - truly present in the Eucharist under the forms of bread and wine. So if Peter thought that washing his feet was beneath the Lord's dignity, how much greater an act of humility was it that He gave Himself to us in the form of a piece of bread so that we, the slaves that we are, are able to receive Jesus Christ, Who is God, into our own selves. Washing the feet seems pretty small by comparison.

Now if we look again even more closely at what happened at the Last Supper, it was after it had turned dark. For us, we would look at this and say, "It was on Thursday night." That is not the way the Jewish people keep track of time. The day begins and ends for the Jewish people at sunset, not at midnight, but when the sun goes down. Therefore, at the moment when the sun went down on Thursday, Friday began for the Jewish people. It was dark at the Last Supper. Saint John even makes that point very clearly. At the moment that Judas received Holy Communion, and Satan entered his heart because he rejected Jesus in the Eucharist, he went out; and Saint John makes very clear that it was dark. It was night. The sun had gone down, not only physically in the world, but spiritually in the heart of Judas. It was dark. In other words, it was now Friday for the Jewish people, and the Lord at the Last Supper had just sacrificed Himself sacramentally. He had offered on Friday the sacrifice that He was going to offer physically later on Friday.

And so here at the Last Supper, in the form of a sacrament, Our Lord sacrificed Himself and gave Himself to His disciples to eat. Then later in the same day, He went to the Cross and He sacrificed Himself physically so that what happened at the Last Supper was now happening on the Cross. And what happened on the Cross has continued to happen everyday for the last 2,000 years, as Jesus continues to be sacrificed on the altar, as He continues to give Himself in a sacramental manner for us to be able to eat. He Who is Teacher and Master has made Himself less than a slave, bowing down to wash the feet of His own disciples, giving Himself to each one of us to be food for our souls under the form of bread and wine.

This is the greatest act of love that humanity has ever known. When we look at the humility of Jesus, we remember that humility and charity are completely united. The height of charity is equal to the depth of humility in a person. So when we see the greatest act of love, we should also see the greatest act of humility. They are one and the same. And Our Lord says to us, What I have done for you, you also must do. Not that any one of us will be able to change ourselves into bread and wine in order to be consumed, but rather that we are to give ourselves entirely to Him as He gives Himself to us, that we are to serve others as He has served us, that we are to be humble as He is humble, that we are to love as we have been loved, that what takes place in the Eucharist must find its fulfillment in the way that we live, to find the fullest expression in our lives - not merely when we are in the chapel before the Lord - but when we go out, when we are at home, when we are with friends, when we are out amongst the people. The charity that we receive must be lived. That is what Our Lord is asking of us, to continue the sacrifice (which it is everyday), but also to continue the sacrifice in our own individual day-to-day lives, so that what He has done we will continue to do.

Eating Truth - Dr. Scott Hahn On The Early Christians and The Eucharist

by Brad Miner

How many times, in movies about intrigue, have you seen a scene in which a spy is given a secret, written in code, and which, the agent having deciphered it eats it? Well, maybe the answer is: not very many times in the Digital Age. But, trust me, it was common motif in its day.

Now that sort of fact snack wasn't particularly nutritious. But there is in Judeo-Christian literature stories - two in the Bible and others from tradition - of prophets and holy men being given words to eat by angels (or Our Lady), scrolls the consumption and digestion of which are transformative. An angel gives Ezekiel a scroll to eat ("and in my mouth it was sweet as honey"), and then the prophet is able to go and preach - with understanding - the very words the angel gave him to chew and swallow.

Sure, these may be lessons about the way we "consume" knowledge from texts. How many times have you heard a student wish he could just place a book against his skull and absorb the information "by osmosis"? And the idea is very alluring: of God simply pouring into us in a moment the insights that make us saints.

There was that time in the synagogue at Capernaum when Jesus spoke words that must have been about as controversial as any every uttered to an audience:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. [John 6:51]

It was so outrageous that a number of disciples stopped following Jesus, and you have the sense the Twelve were hanging on by their fingernails. The Lord wonders if they'll also leave, and you sense some of them might have been considering it, but then Peter says: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

And all of this, as Scott Hahn makes clear in his latest book, 'Consuming the Word', was a foreshadowing of the institution of the Eucharist.

As Vatican II put it (Lumen Gentium): "Eucharistic sacrifice is the source and summit of the Christian life." It's unique among world religions, in that it happens one or more times a day in just about every Catholic church throughout the world. Dr. Hahn describes the process by which the earliest Christians merged Holy Communion with the reading of the Scriptures, especially the New Testament; indeed, that term is synonymous with both the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist, each express (even reenact) the historical proclamation of our new Covenant with God through Jesus Christ. The New Testament is a sacrament.

It's hard, actually, not to think as one reads Consuming the Word that the Fathers made a mistake by not sticking with the common usages of the first centuries of the Christian Era: Old Covenant and New Covenant. I don't mean to suggest that "Testament" isn't a fine word, let alone that something essential has been lost in using it. But "Covenant" seems to me a much more powerful word. It's one thing to be bound to God by words and traditions; another to be bound by flesh and blood.

Hahn writes that for the first Christians the New Testament wasn't a book, it was the Eucharist, and when at the Last Supper Jesus established a "new covenant in my blood" [Luke 223:20]:

He declared it to be the New Testament - and the Testament was not a text but an action. He did not say "read this" or "write this," but rather "do this." By the time the Gospels and the Epistles were written, the Church had already been faithful to Jesus' instruction for decades. The New Testament was a sacrament at least a generation before it was a document.

Saint Paul, in fact, preached the Gospel before there were Gospels. Through his preaching, Paul stressed to those he converted that that they are made one with Christ in sacrifice, i.e. the Eucharistic celebration, and that this in turn required priests, and with the priestly office came baptism, marriage, and so on.

There's a subtle correction here to the sola scriptura view of the faith: it's not that the books of the Covenants are diminished, rather that we recognize that the sacrifice preceded the documents. But, in no sense does Scott Hahn depart from belief in orthodoxy with regard to the Bible:

From Jesus to the apostolic Church to the pastors and theologians of the second century there is full unanimity of conviction on Scripture' divine origin, divine authority, and divine truthfulness.

And it's as true today as then. We believe the words of God, because the Word of God proclaimed the truth of those words in his earthly ministry.

And there's also an important message here for the New Evangelization, namely that we're all a part of it. Hahn writes that "salvation history did not end the ascension of Christ;" it goes on daily - in church and out. Though we hear the words proclaimed at every Mass in readings from the Old Testament, the Epistles, and the Gospels, Catholics really do need to read the Bible more - and know how to read it; how to consume it.

You won't find a better introduction than Scott Hahn provides in this book.

Source: The Catholic Thing

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