Maundy Thursday Reflection

Maundy Thursday 2024 – Reflection 1

John 13:1-7, 31-35


‘Jesus … got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.’ (13:3, 4)

This is a profound moment. It symbolises something that is at the heart of Jesus’s mission and his identity. Since Jesus is our window through which see God it also tells something both astonishing and comforting about the nature of God.

Jesus, the ‘Teacher and Lord’ (13:14) demonstrates his authority over his followers through serving them. Washing the feet of guests at the meal was normally the duty of the servant or slave; work for the menial, not the master.

And here, as Saint Paul puts it, Jesus ‘humbled himself, taking the form of a slave,’ doing so on the eve of the day when, to quote Paul once more, he ‘humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.’ (Philippians 2:7, 8)

This event of Jesus washing the feet of his followers says something to us not only about him, but is also an occasion when Jesus says something significant to his followers to people like us.

Here’s what Jesus says: ‘You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.’ (13:14-15)

Washing other people’s feet is symbolic of the attitude and actions that Jesus demands form his followers. In fact, it’s a commandment: ‘I give you a new commandment,’ says Jesus,’ that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’(13:34-35)

When we love and serve others – as Jesus did – including those whose status is not as high as our own, then we live as Jesus’s followers are meant to do. When that love is mutual, when we love one another, as Jesus commanded us to do, we glorify Jesus, and we glorify God.

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