by David Morson
The word “Maundy” derives from the Latin for “Mandate”. This is usually associated with foreign affairs or military diplomacy. For example, after World War I Britain was given Mandates for Palestine, Trans Jordan and Iraq and France for Lebanon and Syria. The idea was that an experienced country, should guide and promote an inexperienced country to independence and fulfilment and then withdraw when they are ready to stand alone. So, in order to explore how this translates to our story of Salvation, I am going to focus today on St John’s account of the message of Maundy Thursday.
Before starting, can I refer back to the first Reflections, namely, The Pascal Mystery and the Last Supper, the Two Gardens and St Paul’s theology of Jesus as The “2nd Adam”, Maximillian Kolbe and Self Sacrifice and finally, the Reflection on Caiaphas and the illegality of the Trial of Jesus, as it won’t be possible to cover it all today. Could I also suggest that you Google, ” Jesus Of Nazareth ;The Last Supper “and watch the moving rendition of the institution of the Eucharist The extract takes 5 minutes 58 seconds.
Back to the idea of Maundy or Mandate, St John’s Gospel is very different from the first three Gospels. Although like them it is factual, St John theorises the events He records in a way the other three don’t.
So on Maundy Thursday, St John has Jesus giving a very long discourse or teaching prior to the Supper itself, which is not found in the other Gospels and it is here that He relates the concept of the Mandate which is ” Maundy” Thursday.
Everything Jesus does and says on that night is about love and sharing. There is an inclusive Act of Love when Jesus Washes the Disciples feet. There is an inclusive Act of Love in Sharing a Meal with His friends, as He had done before with tax collectors and sinners and in the Feeding of The 5,000. There is an inclusive Act of Love in Saying “Take This and Eat and Drink “All of You”, and there is an overriding inclusive Act of Love in the Words , “This is My Body and This is My Blood which will be given up for you and for the forgiveness of sins”.
So, disciples of Jesus’ are Mandated by Him to do the “Same”. “You are my disciples if you obey my commandments… Love one another as I have loved you”. ..Just as I am in the Father and The Father is In Me, so I am in You… I am the Vine and You are The Branches … I call you servants no longer but friends who know their Master’s Bidding….. Love One Another as I have loved you…”No greater love has any Man than He who lays down His Life for His Friends”.
Jesus’ in His Sacrifice gives us all the Mandate to start anew by living a life of love and sharing. If we share in the life of Jesus as His disciples, we also share in the life of the Father and as such, have eternal life.