My awesome friend Thomas shared this great post by Roger Wolsey at The Holy Kiss:
The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and then wraps up with “holy week” – which is comprised of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the great culmination of the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection known as Easter.
Most people have heard of Good Friday and Easter – the later two days of the Paschal Triduum. A lot of folks haven’t heard about their unwanted kid brother. “Maundy Thursday” comes from “mandatum novum” meaning “new commandment” referring to the 13th chapter in the Gospel called John, which describes Jesus hosting a meal for his disciples (the “last supper”) after his “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem. It describes how in the middle of that meal, Jesus got up from the table, wrapped a towel around his waist, and then started washing the feet of his disciples and commences with his ordering the “new mandate” to “love one another.”
I refer to Maundy Thursday as “unwanted” because who wants to be reminded that the Master humbled himself to doing the task that servants and slaves did? We want to celebrate him as the risen king – not as someone who wiped shit off of people’s feet (literally in the case of sandal wearing persons who walked roadways without sewers, and with lots of donkeys hauling stuff around, but also metaphorically). Who wants to be reminded that Jesus is willing to touch us where we’re most vulnerable and where the shit in our lives can be seen? Who wants to be reminded of the shit in our lives at all? Who wants to be intimately seen by another? Who wants to break bread and commune with people who truly know us?
Jesus’ first disciples balked when he washed their feet – “What are you doing? That’s for slaves to do! We can’t let you do this!” Jesus shot back, “Unless you let me do this, unless you let me humble myself, unless you let me do something that you think is shameful; i.e., letting me embrace you in your shame, you have no part in me!”
If we don’t let Jesus truly into our lives where we’re most vulnerable, ashamed, and broken, we don’t truly let Jesus into our lives.
While many of us may be a bit wary of having others touch our feet (and while I’ve heard of churches where they offer to wash people’s hands instead of their feet – seems more civilized and less off-putting), it seems to me that washing the feet of modern people who live in developed countries isn’t anywhere near as profound or impactful as what those early followers of Jesus experienced. I’d like to propose that a powerful way for churches to convey the true potency of Maundy Thursday – and the radical truth it seeks to convey– would be to have people bring in their laptop computers and other e-vices and then have some trained computer geeks remove all of the pornography (or gossip, hate-full rants, etc) that’s on too many people’s computers – even down to scrubbing all the cookies and traces of past visits to various websites.
I’m not prudish or anti-erotica all together, but working in campus ministry as I do, I’m aware of the massive amount of addiction and shame that many people find themselves caught up in (men and women).
Does the idea of such a “ritual” repel you? Is that the last thing you’d want people in the Church to do for you?
…. now you’re getting the idea.
Jesus loves us unconditionally, just as we are. We’re called to love ourselves and others that way too. Indeed, we’re commanded to. Those are our marching orders.
Read it all here.