The day we observe Jesus doing and saying weird hard things. In the way Jesus had of saying and doing weird hard things.
Here the tradition is entirely from John, a book of weird and hard things. Jesus bowing down, getting on his hands and knees to wash the disciples feet. To wash Judas’ feet knowing what he was going to do.
This is a hard model to follow. Imagine the worst person you know, search through history if you need to do so. Could you wash his or her feet?
The second thing is like unto it. The mandatum from which we get ‘maundy.’ A new command I give you, that you love one another as I first loved you.
How is that even possible? How is it even possible to contemplate and understand much less do?
To love one another as Jesus loves us. To love to the point of emptying yourself of all power and authority and identity. To love to the point of serving. To the point of sacrificing. To the point of dying.
The old adage, to do to others what you would want done to you, is far easier. Easier to understand. Easier to carry out. But to love as God loves. To love as Jesus loved. To love to the point of the cross. It is hard to even know what that looks like.
Who can you not love to the point of dying for them?
Perhaps that is not the right question. If you die you don’t have to deal with consequences. Total sacrifice is, sometimes, easier than partial.
Who can you not love to the point of acceptance? To the point of giving your last dollar? To the point of inviting into your home and sharing your food? To the point of hugging and kissing on the cheek? To the point of sitting and listening?
Now, how do you show that love? Do you work against your own best interests for the good of others? Do you voluntarily accept burdens just to distribute the load better?
We love, not as self-righteous or self-aggrandizing martyrs, but as humble servants who live to continue to serve. There is no room for selfishness in love, not the love of Christ.
I could, I think, answer some of these questions for you. Or at least for large parts of the American public. I can look at the news and say who is not served, who is not loved, who is not accepted. I can easily see the limits of how far so-called Christianity goes. So can everyone else. That’s why the “no religion” category is the fastest growing one in the country. No one learns when you tell them the answers. Sometimes you have to just figure it out for yourself.
Just remember, Jesus loved all the people he was not supposed to love. Tax collectors, lepers, Samaritans, gentiles.
It is a place to start.
Whether you get your hands wet today or not. Whether you touch someone else’s feet today or not. If you claim Good Friday and Easter Sunday then you have agreed to Maundy Thursday, not just today but every day.