Thursday, April 13, 2017

Holy Thursday - Love

Holy Thursday invokes visions of Jesus calmly washing the feet of His disciples, knowing His hour had come and the inhumane torture He was about to endure. I try to imagine what He must have been feeling . . . thinking. Sad because those He loved would betray Him? Frustrated He would be put to death like a criminal? Anxious about the pain of the first whip to strike His Body?  Probably. He was human. But He is also looking at the big picture, thinking about us and God's Will for Him. He knows His death leads to our salvation. This contemplation leads me to think about Jay and our girls, sons-in-law, and grandchildren. I would do anything for them. I would die for them. If I knew my death would save them, I would do it in a heartbeat. I can see myself, for their sake, being calm and loving the night before; trying to assure them of the destination I had been working toward before I died. Trying to help them live a better life by walking closely with Christ in humility. Jesus loved His disciples as deeply as we love our spouses, children and grandchildren. We must all remember on this Maundy Thursday how the Son of God humbly washed the feet of those He loved . . . including the man who would betray Him. It's all about love, isn't it? Loving others despite their intentions. Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do.

In the Gospel today (John 13:1-15), Jesus doesn't skip a beat in teaching His disciples the meaning of service to others:

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper,  fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,  “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him,  “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him,  “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him,  “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over;  so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,  he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,  you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow,  so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Anne's book Staying in Place provides such clarity and food for thought:

"The Father, in His heart, suffered with Christ in the Passion. Yes, in the way Jesus knew that God would never abandon Him and that He was loved by His Father, so we, too, know these things, even when our temptations reach despair. Total despair, or true despair, is actually rejection of God. Because grace is always present. And grace was there for Jesus. What was Jesus in His beautiful humanity but a collection of cells which vibrated together as matter? How can we believe that God is not with us when without His ongoing decision and action, our being would cease to vibrate and fall to the ground in death, stillness, engaged in the opposite of the process which occurs in the womb? At death the body then cooperates with natural law and decomposes, the opposite of the rapid and extraordinary process that occurs between conception and birth.

Jesus, did not make His way into time through ordinary circumstances. Rather, it was an action of the Trinity which resulted in this body taking form. Therefore, we have a different circumstance. Jesus chose to take human form and Jesus chose to depart from His life for the time between His death and Resurrection. Therein we note the difference. He picked up His life at conception. He showed us how to express holy human essence during His life. He laid down His life for us according to the plan of the Father. Then, in answer to all hope, He picked it up again at the Resurrection. He was choosing and acting all the time. While He did not choose the manner of His torture, which is important, He chose to submit to it."

Lay apostles, imagine this is your last day on this earth. How would you spend it? Organize your day with this in mind. Call a loved one; attend daily Mass; babysit for a young mother; talk to your children about Jesus and humility (even if your children are 50!). Live this day, then the next day, and the next as if your last. I couldn't imagine any better preparation to meet our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Thank you, Lord, for Your humble service and love the night before Your death. I promise to do my best to live each day as my last.

God bless,


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