Maundy Thursday of Holy Week, 2014. The word “maundy” comes from the mandate Jesus gives his followers on the night of their last supper together
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
The “as I have loved you,” comes on the heels of Jesus washing his disciples feet, as a servant would, and so this story helps us to see why later writers would describe Jesus as one who
though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)
I’ve been thinking today about another verse in John, also from the farewell sections. Jesus says,
I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. (John 15:15)
So, when Jesus gives the mandate to love each other as he has loved, he is asking us to call each other friends. Which may sound light and fluffy. But Jesus sees friendship and love differently:
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life
for one’s friends. (John 1:13)
In the next few days, no one was able to join Jesus in that kind of love. But isn’t that what the call is? Was there a nonviolent uprising (or laying down) that could have happened in those days? Should anyone ever lay down their life alone?
That nonviolent revolution certainly unfolded in the months and years and centuries that followed.
But the heaviness in my heart and throat this day is for those still being crucified, by hunger, by oppression, by violence, by fear … the list of causes is endless, but it all boils down to a failure to love. I am part of that failure. I am failing friends I know and friends I don’t know yet, by letting myself forget how I am called to them and to their lives.
I cannot let my inability to serve as I would like to have served keep me from serving at all. Let me carry the towel today, Jesus, my troubling friend. Let me carry it every day. And when I drop it, as I do, help me to pick it up again.