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Maundy Thursday


Today is Maundy Thursday. The word "Maundy" comes from the Latin "mandate" which means "commandment". On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus gave to his disciples a new commandment to love one another as he had loved them (John 13:34). Furthermore, Jesus demonstrated his love for his disciples, on that same night, by taking off his clothes (taking the form of a servant) and washing his disciples dirty feet. Afterwards, he tells his disciples that he has given them an example to follow.

I like what C. S. Lewis says about this in a letter to a Catholic priest, Don Giovanni Calabria who lived in Verona. The letter was written in Latin during Holy Week in 1948. I will give the lead in to the key statement so that you can understand the context. And I will also quote from the English translation....

Everywhere things are troubling and uneasy--wars and rumours of war: perhaps not the final hour but certainly times most evil.
Nevertheless, the Apostle again and again bids us 'Rejoice'.
Nature herself bids us do so, the very face of the earth being now renewed, after its own manner, at the start of Spring.
I believe that the men of this age (and among them you Father, and myself) think too much about the state of nations and the situation of the world. Does not the author of The Imitation warn us against involving ourselves too much with such things?
We are not kings, we are not senators. Let us beware lest, while we torture ourselves in vain about the state of Europe, we neglect either Verona or Oxford. 
In the poor man who knocks at my door, in my ailing mother, in the young man who seeks my advice, the Lord Himself is present: therefore let us wash His feet. (Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II, pp. 843-844)
I like the way Lewis turns around the image of Jesus washing his disciples feet and pictures us as washing Jesus' feet. This follows the idea of what Jesus said in Matthew 25; when we serve "the least of these", we are serving Jesus.

Lewis was apparently writing this letter on Holy Saturday, for later on he says:
Tomorrow we shall celebrate the glorious Resurrection of Christ. I shall be remembering you in the Holy Communion. Away with tears and fears and troubles! United in wedlock with the eternal Godhead Itself, our nature ascends into the Heaven of Heavens. So it would be impious to call ourselves 'miserable'. On the contrary, Man is a creature whom the Angels--were they capable of envy--would envy. Let us lift up our hearts!
I think Lewis' statements here provide good food for meditation in Holy Week. Lewis' words raise the questions: Whose feet does the Lord want me to wash this day? And how might I rejoice more in the resurrection of Jesus, not only on Easter, but every day?

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