‘‘I was at his death bed, but I didn’t understand what he said last! I am so depressed that I couldn’t make out what his last desire was..” My cousin wept bitterly repeating the same words over the telephone, as I stood speechlessly on the other end holding the phone close to my ears. She was mourning the loss of her beloved dad! While her tears swept into my heart, I was searching for words to console her; yet, failed miserably. I am pretty sure you have been through such difficult moments in your lives as well.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are lucky that we have clearly heard the departing words of our Lord to us: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ( John 13: 34,35)
Yes, it is a command! We have no excuse not to love because it is a categorical assertion, “you ‘must’ love one another!” The word ‘Maundy’ means ‘commandment.’ Maundy Thursday,’ thus, implies the Holy Thursday when we remember the great ‘commandment’ of LOVE with an intent to love more and more. It is only when we follow the commandments of the Master that we will become real disciples. Jesus proved himself to be the worthy Son of God by seeking and fulfilling the Father’s will each moment of His life, even on the cross.
In order to enter into the promised land, keeping the commandments is mandatory. Jesus knew that it is not possible for us to know and follow the Will of God, unless heavenly assistance is provided. Therefore, He instituted the Holy Eucharist and promised to strengthen us with the bread of life – His own Body and Blood! Just as the Israelites were fed the heavenly manna in the wilderness on their journey to the promised land – Canaan (later identified as Jerusalem), the New Israel – the Church – will be fed with the bread of eternal life on its journey to Heaven – the New Jerusalem!
According to St. Thomas Aquainas, the Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love which ‘signifies’ and ‘produces’ love. As often as we approach this mystery, let’s ask the Lord to fill us with His LOVE. His washing of the feet of the disciples is the expression of His love in humility and service. His forgiveness of the one who betrayed Him is the exemplification of His new version of love unheard of by His contemporaries. His sweating of blood at the garden of Gethsemane is the pouring out of His love in suffering for others. How shall we reciprocate His great love?! Acknowledging our shortcomings and unworthiness, we can only say along with the Centurion: Lord! I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed!
Lord! I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed!